Tim Davey The stress of garden responsibilities
My wife has left me. Packed her bags and gone. Her abrupt departure, early one bright sunny morning, caught me somewhat off-guard. I mean, what does one say in such situations?
I just proffered a somewhat mumbled "Have a nice time" and shuffled off to work.
My wife, on the other hand (or both hands, actually) was planning to leg it with two far-too-full suitcases for a few days at the seaside with one of my daughters and two of my grandchildren. I did not come into the equation, save for Mrs D making it perfectly clear the place should be in the same, over-vacuumed state as when she left it.
Far more important, however, was the survival of her garden, the floral and the vegetable bit.
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Every night my wife disappears for ages and ages to quench the constant thirsting for water of everything from runner beans to aubergines, from tomatoes to carrots, and on through mixed leaves to fruit trees and many and varied floral borders.
And it is true that things really do taste so different when you use them straight from the garden.
One minute the carrots, say, are in the ground, the next, scrubbed up and in the pot. there's nothing quite like it, save for the delight of indulging in absolute gluttony consuming a pile of home-grown runner-beans.
So in truth, I am full of admiration for my wife's dedication to the garden, which, in turn, provides this constant bountiful homegrown harvest for us throughout spring, summer and autumn.
In her absence, however, the watering falls to me. It is an awesome responsibility and something of a psychological burden.
For, on the occasional evenings when I volunteer to help out with the task, my wife, without fail, always tut-tuts at my woeful irrigation technique.
I'm either applying it too sparingly, as in the case of our beloved runners, or too fiercely with the more tender plants.
So I know, the first thing that will happen once the wanderer returns from more western climes than ours.
My wife will head straight out into the garden to see whether I have reduced it to a withered or washed-out wasteland. And before anyone begins hand-wringing about our water source for all this depleting the reservoirs, I should explain we have a convenient river at the bottom of the garden into which we dunk a watering-can.
Sometimes, when we fall victim to the vagaries of the British weather, the river obliges and relieves us of this laborious task by filling the garden with water for us.