Gardening from a dog’s viewpoint

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 3, 2020

Hello, fellow gardeners.

It’s me, Uschi again. While my mom is busy moaning about the general state of affairs – plants arriving and no one to help take care of them, too much rain, and who knows what else – I thought I would offer some calming suggestions for what we can all do. First of all, the sky isn’t falling, at least not yet, so think positive, stay home and enjoy your garden.

I recommend that we all take time to notice the beauty of early spring. Have you stopped to observe the new leaves that are just beginning to emerge? The willows have long delicate strands of pale chartreuse foliage, while other trees have leaves with varying shades of yellow and even red. The new leaves of hardwood trees are usually reddish because they contain anthocyanins that help protect them from cold snaps. Every day the leaves change until one morning we discover that we’re surrounded by a thousand vibrant shades of green.

Do you have common violets growing in your lawn and flower beds? I bet you consider them a scourge, but, please, notice the flowers, note that they’re quite tasty in salads, and serve as an early spring source of energy for many pollinators. They’re not all bad. Have you stopped to listen to the songbirds? You should because they’ll make you feel more cheerful and hopeful.

Now is the perfect time to plan a small vegetable garden. It’s easy to grow many of your favorite vegetables in pots, and it’s so convenient to have those pots right by the kitchen door. At Great Dixter in England, the entire kitchen garden is grown in pots, scores of pots. Start small with a cherry tomato or two, several varieties of peppers (don’t forget the shishitos), some herbs, and if you’re adventurous, try some potatoes too.

If you have something beautiful blooming, take photos to share on social media or to email to friends who don’t have a garden. Spreading good cheer is part of a gardener’s mission. This isn’t the right time for political correctness. My mom recently shared some photos of daffodils, which always make her happy, and was dinged by someone who primly pointed out that daffodils have no ecological value. How sad.

There are lots of great new books on gardening. Perusing one or two is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Brew a pot of good strong tea, add a plate of cookies, and you’ve got heaven on earth.

My mom has been reading “Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces”; “Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers”; and “Plants Are Terrible People,” a collection of funny stories about things that can go wrong in the garden. I bet you have your own private collection of such anecdotes that you could share with friends.

And finally, dig. Yes, dig. Digging is a great way to release tension and pent up energy. I should know because I’m a master digger capable of excavating multiple holes in the blink of an eye. Smooth terrain and treasured plants are never safe from me.

And now, while my mom isn’t paying attention, I’m going to jiggle the new latch on the garden gate and go roaming around town. It’s my mission to spread cheer. I’m Uschi, my mom’s favorite garden helper. Cheers!

DR. CYNTHIA Wood is a master gardener who writes two columns for The Herald. She can be reached at