Dorothy Burchett head shot

Dorothy Burchett 

As I was putting cages around my rhododendrons last week to protect them from wild animals over the winter, it suddenly hit me why rich people have gardeners. Keeping a yard with flowers and a vegetable garden could be a full-time job.

I started to review what I had done this spring and summer. The first thing I did was dig out unwanted bushes and plants –especially the poison ivy – that were growing around the edges of the property.

Then it was time to plant the tomato, broccoli and pepper seeds and put them under glass until the plants were big enough and the weather was warm enough to transplant them to the garden.

I removed the cages from around the rhododendrons and the fruit trees, so their beauty could show forth.

Next on the list was to plant the cucumber seeds and the carrots, peas, beans and all the rest. Speaking of rest, I had a few weeks to rest before I needed to hoe and weed. I spent some of that time putting down plastic sheeting so I could keep the hoeing and weeding to a minimum. Maybe I didn’t rest, after all.

I couldn’t put down plastic between the flowers, but it did my heart good to see them come alive as they popped through the ground and began to bloom. The flowers and colors kept changing and were completely different from one week to the next.

But, my work wasn’t done. Then came the watering in the dry season and the harvesting of the vegetables, of course. There was also spraying the fruit trees, pruning the trees and the berry bushes and fertilizing everything so they would grow well.

If you’re wondering what part Sweetheart played in this venture, he tilled the garden and hauled the compost and mowed the grass. Those are jobs I don’t want to tackle.

Now, if you’ve read all of this, what I have described could easily discourage a person from wanting to have a vegetable or flower garden, unless, of course, you’re rich and can hire somebody to do the work.

I probably wouldn’t hire somebody to do the work even if I was rich. Fact is, I enjoy all of that work. There’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes from seeing the fruits of my labors. The vegetables and fruits taste so good when they’re picked fresh and ripe from the vine, or plant, or tree.

It’s like all work. Whatever I do, I like to stand back from time to time and admire it. It gives me pride in seeing the contribution I have made to making the world a better place. It gives meaning to my life and I feel like a contributing member of society. When I go to bed at night and rest my weary bones, it feels so good to relax and think over what I accomplished.

I wasn’t always like this. When I was a teenager, I hated to work. All I cared about was a boyfriend – or lack thereof. I lolled around the house all day, reading books and being rather narcissistic. It was pretty boring. I used to get kind of depressed. My mother would yell at me, but it didn’t make much difference in my behavior.

I think what made the difference was graduating from high school, getting a job, thinking of others and contributing to society. It’s funny how thinking about others makes a person feel better. It makes me feel better anyway.

And, when it comes to taking care of the yard and garden, I don’t envy those poor rich people who hire other people to do their work.

(Dorothy Burchett is the author of the book “Miles and Miracles,” available at Pokeberry Exchange in New Castle. Contact her at

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