Some people want sprinkler systems, drip systems and drought tolerant -- even neglect-tolerant -- plants, but that's not the case with some of us. We like our high-maintenance yards. These yards often feel more like gardens in the way they provide for us. They are there whenever we need them -- with whatever we need.
I agree with other devoted gardeners who also observe the amazing timing a garden can have. When things seem complicated and chaotic, there is a bush that needs pruning into an orderly, more simple shape. When my children are ungrateful or annoying, I go into my garden and see that the bloom-booster I put on last week is already encouraging tiny buds. When my husband is busy and preoccupied, there is an area that needs me to spend some time and water it. When I have waited in vain for a letter from an editor, I come to the garden and find a new shoot on the cutting I'm trying to start. When I need to blow off steam there are bamboo leaves in the juniper hedge and I can whack them out with the broom. Or I can find a few big weeds to pull up and feel a sense of triumph.
The garden always seems to have just what I need -- a patch to mow, a hedge to trim. A place to clear my head and sometimes my heart. For all the time I spend on it, my garden should look like Versailles. But to me, it looks even more beautiful.
One evening my neighbor passed walking his dog as I pruned in the fading sunset. He barely stopped, but said, "When I die, I want to come back as a plant in your yard." I think he has seen how much I care for my garden. But I don't think anyone has seen how my garden has cared for me.