A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

My Two Helpers

I want my family to enjoy the garden as much as I do, so I try to include them in my efforts. My desires are met with mixed results, but everyone does seem to take a moment in the garden at least once a day.

My biggest two helpers bring me more work than I can bear at times, but I still love them all the same. They both bring back the plants that I just placed into the ground, to remind me that I left this behind. I thank them, and then find ways to replant. They tear down bushes with glee, or they trample over the perennial flowers. They sample the vegetables, and sometimes some of the other plants too. They attempt to climb trees and bushes with determination, which leads to branches coming down, and they have discovered that bark is fun to peel off. Who are these helpers that provide so much: my baby daughter, Katya, and my dog, Fritz. The two have decided to become partners in crime.

I think that many gardeners face this dilemma. I asked my vet if there was anyway in preventing a dog from such behavior without using anything to elaborate. He replied that you should not let them watch you garden. Their curiosity will lead them to investigate what you are doing, and they will find a means to be helpful. Fritz has his set paths through the garden, so now I plan my plantings around this road. Trying to fight a dog on this matter is useless. Fritz just knocks everything down that does not suit his vision of the garden. To counteract his bathroom needs in the yard, I spread some agricultural gypsum. My struggles with him will continue I am sure, but I make my strategies around his habits, and that seems to work.

For my daughter, I avoid plants that I know are toxic like oleander. You just never will know what a toddler will place in their mouths. She is in love with flowers, but I try to show her that walking on them is not helpful. I know that she will eventually learn, because I went through the same thing with my son. I try to make garden spaces that are just for her, that I know will not come to much harm by her explorations. By creating garden beds that are meant for such wanderings, I reduce the damage to other plants. I also try to avoid showing her some of the things that I do in the garden, so she will not imitate my every action, until she has learned better.

Patience in all things is the key, and particularly so in a garden under attack from such help, but planning will do you some wonders.

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