Search Results for: dog

Yard Dog

If you garden, I am sure you understand what it means to be a yard dog.  You dig the dirt, turn and spread the compost, wheel the mulch, prune the shrubs, drag the hose to the thirsty tree, plant new plants, divide old plants, pull the weeds, rake the leaves, and then start all over again.  All of the aforementioned jobs take place in the spring when it’s cold, in the summer when it’s 90, in the fall when it’s raining and very cold.     

Every landscape is threatened by trouble.  No rain, too much rain.  Weather that is too hot, or too cold, or too humid.  Woodchucks, deer, chipmunks, the neighbor’s children, Japanese beetles, anthracnose, fungus, white fly, spider mites, slugs, nematodes-even dogs.  There is ample evidence in my yard that I have two male dogs.  Can you hear me shrug??  I am always on patrol for trouble.  It makes much more sense to stay ahead of trouble, than be left in its wake. 

Some trouble pops right out in front of your face.  A shrub with leaves so green on the outside may be hiding trouble on the inside.  Scale-have you ever had it?  This revolting insect attaches itself to to the stems of magnolias, and euonymus.  A severely infected plant has stems covered in white; scale is very difficult to eradicate, once it has taken hold.  Be a great yard dog-inspect your plants regularly.  From top to bottom.   I like to hand water.  The time it takes to water deeply gives me time to see what is going on behind the scenes. I see Milo running in and out of the boxwood hedges-they do not seem to mind the intrusion.  I see the hummingbirds on the nicotiana.  I have lots of them right now-they must be on their way south.  I see the hydrangea flowers pinking up-who knew pink could be a verb? I can process a lot of trouble, and my plan to combat said trouble, while holding the hose.   

I see the hawks riding the updrafts. I see the clouds-are they not beautiful in the fall?  I see those giant messy structures I know to be squirrel’s nests in my big Norway maple.  The black tar fungus has decimated the foliage on this tree-this is trouble over which I have no control.  Whether on not I have control, I stand watch. 

Milo has a squirrel friend.  This squirrel chatters at him, leaps and runs through the trees ringing the property.  Milo never takes his eyes off that squirrel.  His focus is an astonishing thing to behold.  They have quite the relationship.  My very low to the ground corgi, and that tree hopping bushy tailed rodent have a mutually satisfying relationship.   The same could be said for me and my garden.    

Milo works very hard, keeping up his end.  He may patrol the perimeter of the garden 10 times in any given evening.  His nemesis, that squirrel friend, is bound to show up sooner or later.  At some point, he will take a break, and get a drink.  I understand perfectly the responsibility involved.  Nature dishes out all kinds of  trouble.  Weather is to be watched, and cleaned up after.  There is no intervening in this.  I don’t intervene with bugs-I live through them.  I will treat a bacterial infection, and I will treat a fungus.  But no matter how little control I have, I have the yard dog gene. No doubt, there are those moments when I need a drink of water.  

The pleasure of a garden is considerable.  What it takes to have one, more than well worth the effort.  No matter what job needs doing once I get home, there are rewards.  Every dog has his day.  

Gardening is a dirty business. The dirt may be the best part of it.  Given 15 years of compost and ground bark turned into and returned to my soil, my plants thrive.  What could be more thrilling?  That dirt-in my socks and under my nails-part and parcel of being a yard dog.       

It’s a dirty job, but some of us have to do it.

Corgi Run

If you have ever been to my store, or my home, it’s easy to figure out that I am a dog in a person suit, and my Cardigan Welsh Corgis are little people in dog suits. The little people have the run of both of my places.

I call my garden Corgi Run-presiding over it is a very fine weathervane-English made of course.  It was a birthday present from Rob, whose feelings about dogs are no different than mine.�

Milo, my dark brindle Corgi, has an unexpectedly big and disarmingly compelling personality.  He persuades customers to pitch his beloved balls for him.  He is a dog with a lot to say-vocal, is putting it mildly.  I am convinced he understands English.  He is as relaxed with visitors as he is in front of a camera;  I should have named him Hambone. Rob thinks I should buy him a flock of sheep for his birthday this year.


My red brindle corgi Howard, is a dog’s dog.  Bred like Milo, for herding cattle and sheep, he herds everyone who comes in until he is sure they are friendly.  He is always working. Letting me know when someone comes, patrolling the property.  Extremely reserved, even shy, he will let out a blood-curdling howl when startled. I think he is as handsome as Cary Grant, although he abhors having his picture taken.


The pair of them welcome every visitor with their version of a  Las Vegas style welcome- a lot of horn and hoopla. They can be a lot of horn and hoopla in a garden, too.


A reader with corgis wrote me recently to ask what I recommended planting in a garden with dogs.  I do not think what you plant is nearly as important as where you plant, and at what level.  My dogs are creatures of habit-they have their routes. I designed my garden not only to hide their routes, but  accommodate them.howard23_4


My boxwood hedges have “corgi doors” cut into them, at their level.  They love going in one door, and out the other.


My asparagus is companion planted with roses; they avoid that area altogether.  My row of snakeroot has a barked corgi route immediately adjacent. My fountain has a frame of herniaria surrounding it, which acts like a doormat for all the grass clippings and other debris corgis carry around on their feet. They are too short to be any problem to my pots-I feel for gardeners with tall dogs.  The many changes of level in my yard are like a obstacle course they never tire of;  those stairs also slow them down.  They sit under my life size moss cow when it’s raining. I make sure they have room on the deck to observe what’s doing in the neighborhood. Any low groundcover is bound to show Corgi-wear, but after all, it is their garden too. It’s a good look, a garden that looks like someone lives there.

I do not have any kids, except the aforementioned kids. I would never want a garden so precious it had no room for dogs and kids.  The small garden space which was all mine as a child no doubt played a part in why I do what I do now.