I bought no flowers last year.
No, there just wasn’t enough money for the “extras,” so unless we could eat it, wear it, sing it, or play sports with it, we didn’t buy it.
And, I was depressed all summer. I had flower-envy. Adequate rains left all the neighbors’ yards beautiful, but not mine. I would go out to water the ever-loyal hostas in the morning (even though they didn’t need me or ask for my help) just to give the appearance of gardening. With the exception of my faithful fall mums from the Catholic church youth, I was flowerless.
After a summer of that, Wil had had enough of his mother’s flower depression, so Mother’s Day this year, he appeared with a tray of his favorite flowers, petunias, and a tray of my favorite flower, marigolds; and off we went to brighten my day.
But petunias and marigolds were not enough. Suddenly, after months of going without, I was like an alcoholic off the wagon. I had a young man till up the entire front of the house seven feet wide, and down the sidewalk for good measure. I justified it all, like any good alcoholic would, by telling myself I was doing it all for the boy, since he was working odd jobs to raise money for a European leadership trip. He needed money, I needed (no, wanted) more flowers.
He started, and I said longer. He continued, and I said deeper. He looked at me, and I smiled and said, ‘Just one more pass.”
Who knew 30’ x 7’ could be so big?
Now I needed my next drink, eh flower. So off I went to a rural garden center. So many choices, so little knowledge. I was stumped until the woman started placing plant buckets across the driveway so I could visualize my house. Alas, she struck the perfect combination, and home I came with a truckful of trees and leafy plants. Only problem was that my house didn’t look like her driveway. I had pillars where she didn’t, and imagine my surprise to find out that my trellis aren’t precisely equal. For hours, I moved plants from one spot to another, trying every combination of plant, tree, plant, flower, tree, etc. Scratched and bleeding from the “you’ve got to have them” Knockout Roses, I finally came up with the perfect combination.
I stepped back and viewed the arrangement from the roadway. I climbed up on the porch and sat in the rocker to see if I liked it just as well from the backside. Neighbor Jim Greathouse came over and gave his stamp of approval, happy to see any improvement, I’m sure, to my flower-deprived yard.
So in the ground they went.
So much for the “staples,” as the saleswoman had called them. A couple Diablo trees, three knockout roses, a couple Barberries and a vine (yes, all that work over eight plants), I was ready for a shot of the hard stuff… flowers.
I couldn’t wait. I claimed Jenny’s truck the next day and headed to the perennial plant sale. A couple hours later (yes, it took me that long), I drove away with flowers. As I unpacked the truck, I was stunned by how many flowers I had. Now, what to do with them.
My predicament was solved when Marge Pfister, neighbor from the old days, just happened to drive by. I had found a fellow plant alcoholic. She was timid to offer suggestions at first, afraid to offend me, but when the shyness wore off, Marge jumped in, splitting bundles of perennials, hacking apart roots and shoving them in the ground.
Little did I know the work she would cause me for the next several days, as she’d dig something up in her yard and bring it over for me to plant in mine. Marge became my instead source of free alcohol (flowers!).
Though I love my bought flowers, I really enjoy my friendship flowers which didn’t cost a thing except a few moments of my time with friends.
It was on a return visit to the yard that Marge looked at the annual flower bed Wil and I had planted Mother’s Day. I had neglected it with all the other planting and it was full of weeds, which I pointed out.
“I don’t think that’s a weed,” Marge said of one bunch of tall weeds growing near the birdfeeder. “Let it grow for a while and see what you get,” she advised.
And this morning, I was rewarded for my patience when a beautiful, huge sunflower-like blossom sprang forth from my “weeds.”
I’ve learned a lot from my flower garden this year.
I’ve learned to enjoy old friends.
I’ve learned to enjoy “frivolous things” every now and then.
And I’ve remembered what I’ve always known; that sometimes, beauty takes time. The past three summers before this, I had broken off and killed that very “weed” which today became a sunflower.
Some things take time to blossom.
Some children take time to blossom. That’s why the only time I’ve ever contacted a school board member was to give my opinion when they debated allowing coaches to “cut” kids off the team at the sixth grade ball level.
Some kids take more time than others to develop, I said.
Some kids take more time to bloom.
Yank them out before they have time to mature and grow into their gym shorts and you might be weeding out your best potential for the coming years.
Fertilize it a little, spend time with it, nurse it along, and then evaluate its potential; you may be surprised to find it isn’t a weed anymore at all.
I like my garden. I won’t even mind the water bill. (Who knew that once I put gutters on the house and planted a garden it would never rain again?
I have flowers.
That’s all that matters.
The Package of Seeds
I paid a dime for a package of seed
And the clerk tossed them out with a flip.
“We’ve got ‘em assorted for every
He said with a smile on his lip.
“Pansies and poppies and asters and peas!
Ten cents a package! And pick as you please.”
Now seeds are just dimes to the man in
And the dimes are the things that he needs;
And I’ve been to buy them in seasons before,
But have thought of them merely as seeds;
But it flashed through my mind as I took
them this time,
“You have purchased a miracle here for
“You’ve a dime’s worth of power which
no man can create,
You’ve a dime’s worth of life in your hand!
You’ve a dime’s worth of mystery, destiny,
Which the wisest cannot understand.
In this bright little package, now isn’t it odd?
You’ve a dime’s worth of something
known only to God!”
--Edgar A. Guest,
“The Light of Faith,” 1926