I’m rarely alone when I’m in the garden. My gardening companions are usually always around, in one form or another.
Companions in the Garden
There’s an old saying, “Two’s company and three’s a crowd.” But, sometimes, the best things come in threes, especially when it’s companions in the garden – and I don’t mean plant companions, although their good to have too.
My dog Maya keeps me company the majority of the time, smelling miscellaneous plants, rolling around in dirt or trampling everything – but she means well. This dog loves flowers and will sniff them as much as me. She also enjoys veggies. Her favorite is pumpkin, and because of this, I try to include one each year. She is particularly fond of pie pumpkins, which works out well in the event none of mine survive. You can always find them at the produce market in fall. She also has a weird affinity for greens, especially radish and kale. Thankfully, both are safe for dogs. Who knew?
Although on occasion Maya will dig, like if she smells a mole, she doesn’t normally bother anything. She will, however, roll in any dirt spot she finds available. This makes adding new beds a bit of a challenge but, once planted, she seems to know it’s off limits. She enjoys laying in the sun and taking in the fresh air. We often sit together in the evenings just to unwind. Nature can be just as relaxing for dogs in the garden as it is to us.
My grandson Jax, who also has a love of flowers and all things outdoors, is my favorite garden buddy. I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I’d like since he lives further away, but when I do, we are always in the garden at some point.
I recently carved out a special area just for him and the other grandkids where they can play, dig and even grow their own stuff. When Jax visits, one of the first things he wants to do is get my trowel and dig”¦ everything. Although he’s getting old enough to understand more about where he can and cannot go, with the new play garden my little monkey can dig all he wants without damaging any plants. There’s a sandbox, an excavation site (old sink and dirt pile) and a child-sized planter.
Another activity he enjoys is watering and I’m always happy to oblige. Nana has many plants, so I’m not above accepting free help when asked. Whether it’s with my little watering can or the hose, he’s happy as can be giving the garden a drink. When we’re in the garden, I always use the opportunity as a teaching moment. I explain the parts of plants, talk about what is blooming, discuss the importance of pollinators, and whatever else garden related a 3-year-old can grasp.
Planting is yet another gardening activity Jax enjoys. We recently planted some sunflower seeds and he planted his own potato too, which reminds me, I need to take a pic and send it to him. It’s sprouted and he will be so tickled. Still waiting on the seeds. I’m thinking the squirrels or birds may have gotten to them. Oh well, we can always try again next time.
Finally, there’s Toady, who visits the garden often. He quietly sits and watches as I weed or perform other garden maintenance. At night he ventures out catching insects and doing his part in keeping the garden pest free. He has his own little toad house too, an upturned terracotta pot hidden amongst the plants.
You may think I’m crazy and that’s fine, but I’m always talking to Toady when he’s around. And he seems to listen (or maybe he thinks I’m crazy too). He’s not the only one either. I talk to all the critters in the garden”¦ the birds, squirrels, snakes, bugs, chipmunks, rabbits, whatever. These garden friends are all welcome. I’d talk to the bigger wildlife too if they didn’t visit under the cover of night, the fox, opossum, raccoon, deer and whoever’s cats frequently visit (which could use their own digging area too instead of my beds).
The garden is a wonderful place to be alone, and I do enjoy my solitude, but it’s even better when you can spend the time with a gardening companion, or two or three.