My Mistress and I have had a loving relationship for well over thirty years now. I could not have imagined life without my soulmate and my one true love. But now, the time has arrived to detach from her, letting the two of us move on in life. It is not that the love does not still endure, for it does. The time has arrived for each of us to accept our relationship has become shared memories.

Our relationship began by accident, a chance encounter. If there is no such thing as love at first sight, then there certainly is a curiosity with a mix of lust. Every day from our first encounter to the present day every moment has been filled with the want, the need, to know more about her. Not just to satisfy my curiosity, but to be with her. A day was not complete without time alone with her.

Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) and fire pink (Silene virginica)

Our relationship has been a curious mix from day one. On the one hand, very physical. On the other hand, soulful and spiritual. I feel quite certain she was quite physical all her life, but with me, it was always platonic. There were times of intense sensuality, but never sexuality. Having a glass of chilled wine with her, watching the sunset, and just being together in our favorite spot was a comfort, satisfaction, and tranquility: more than enough to fulfill.

Each day shared we grew together physically, in mind and in spirit. As we grew, she became more and more—more in beauty, but also in her needs. She has always been a demanding mistress, filled with daily needs, wanting, needing more and more. One could remark (and friends have) that she was on the high-maintenance side.

Symphyotrichum (Aster) novae-angliae and goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

Unfortunately, we met late in life, and now, while I love her more than ever; my body can no longer keep up with her needs. Even if I did not love her, the habit of being with her for the past thirty years would be hard to break. The minor Deities know how willing my mind is to hold on to our relationship. The last thing I want to do is set her free. But, while I have aged, she has matured, grown, and become more than this old body can handle. If I truly care for her, it is time to set her free.

In the darker recesses of my mind, I heard whispers of “you are too old for her”, “she has outgrown you”, and “she is too much for you”. “Give it up before you both end up regretting the day you met”. I all knew this with my head, but behind my belly button, I did not want to listen or believe. Whether I wanted to hear it or not, my best friends frequently brought up the topic, and they did not whisper.

Mistress Garden and I are reluctantly releasing each other from our one-on-one relationship. She will be leaving here so she can share herself with more than just me, where she has always belonged. Beauty such as hers withers if not shared.

For myself, I have a wellspring of memories to share. Memories of her beauty, the excitement of our adventures, the soul we grew together, the peace and serenity, the contentment of sharing time. I will become her correspondent.

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Gene E. Bush, Garden Correspondent, tells the complete story of shade gardening based upon thirty-plus years of experience gardening in Southern Indiana.  He also had twenty-plus years as the past owner of Munchkin Nursery & Gardens, specializing in rare and unusual shade perennials. Gene’s garden still specializes in native and non-native perennial woodland plants. This combination of plants forms a casual style of ‘Wild’ gardening. Gene is now active as a garden consultant specializing in Aging With Your Garden. His photographs and writing now appear on his Facebook Page. Watch for exhibits of his photos in local galleries.

Past garden writing and photographs can be found in issues of Fine Gardening, The American Gardener magazine of American Horticulture Society and State by State Indiana Gardening Magazine.

Look for his eBook “Shade Garden Solutions: Eight Essential

Problems Solved for Successful Shade Gardening” on

“A Gardener Grounded: Meeting Life’s Challenges Post-Diagnosis” is available on in both hard copy and eBook

PowerPoint presentations use photos taken in his garden and now focus on the aging gardener. He has given presentations to Morton Arboretum, Fernwood of Niles, MI, and Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI, along with Indianapolis Museum of Art, and garden clubs such as Master Gardener’s groups. Professional organizations such as Kentucky Nursery & Landscaping Assoc., and Perennial Plant Association are frequent favorites for speaking.

Contact Gene for a listing of Speaking Titles.