Well, of course I do, don't I?!
This came up in conversation with a Client the other day - they had been watching me walking back from spraying their Roses, and noticed me stop to say "hello" to a Peony which had recently been moved (it's ok, it's grown well, since I took this photo - right:), and then stroke the leaves of another plant, in a reassuring, "there, there, you're ok" sort of way, and finally, apparently, I patted yet another plant in passing, as though to say "well done!"
When they'd finished teasing me about all this, they commented that I do far more than merely "work" in their garden, that I really "care" for their garden.
I actually do "care" about their plants: I want them to be happy, I want them to thrive (partly because it then makes me look good, so - not entirely altruistic, then!), and I want the garden - as an entire entity - to fulfil its potential, as well as giving pleasure to the owner. That means striving to recycle all the waste of the garden into compost and leaf mold, then putting it back onto the beds: moving any plants which are struggling, and finding them a situation where they feel more comfortable: spotting gaps in the display at various times of the year, and striving to find good plants to fill those gaps: it's a great deal more than just "a bit of weeding and a bit of pruning", as someone once - very rudely - said to me.
Additionally, I care about my Clients: I want them to be happy in their gardens: so I strive to remove anything they don't like, and replace it with something better. I also want them to be able to walk freely, safely, and comfortably around their garden, so I remove obstacles, cut back prickly or overhanging foliage, and suggest the installation of seating, of handrails, or maybe the replacing of steps with slopes (as mobility becomes an issue), as necessary.
I don't think this is unreasonable, or unusual - I think all good Gardeners quickly come to care for "their" gardens. Gardening is so much more than "just a job". I hate the word "vocation" because it implies long hours and crappy wages, but being a gardener is one of those few jobs where you really can enjoy the job.
I am about the only person I know - apart from my fellow gardeners - who doesn't groan on a Monday morning!
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