Hello, Scribe fans. Suze here. Great to see you again! Grab a cuppa something and sit down with us a spell.
I don’t know about you, but I love gardens. Shade gardens full of dramatic hostas, delicate lily-of-the-valley, trilliums, and bleeding heart. Sun-loving gardens stuffed with beautifully tended roses, day and Oriental lilies, irises, black-eyed Suzes, and my two favorite flowers: peonies and big white Shasta daisies with bright yellow fuzzy tummies. In my fantasy, my yard is perfectly landscaped. My flower beds are full of vivid annuals and perennials, all perfectly coordinated as to color, size, and form. Each plant is perfectly planned and placed to bloom in succession so something is in flower from earliest spring right through the first frost.
Wait! Don’t bother me. I’m still fantasizing. Where was I? Oh yes. There are no Japanese beetles eating holes in the leaves of my precious green darlings. Butterflies and hummingbirds (both signs of good luck for me) visit daily. What’s that I see? Oh, a single stray weed growing naughtily where it shouldn’t be. I laugh, shake my head, and pull it up by its shallow roots, tossing it into the well-camouflaged compost pile where it can decompose and return to the earth, ready to nourish new, desirable plants next year.
My reality is not quite so nice, I’m afraid. In truth, I struggle with the gardens. Each spring I dutifully plant zinnias and marigolds and nasturtiums in those cute little peat pots and set them in a south-facing window. Each year, I end up throwing them back into the compost pile (that part of my fantasy, at least, is real) because I’ve forgotten to water them, or they’re spindly and have failed to grow more than their first set of baby leaves. Then I sigh and head once again to the mom-and-pop garden shop the next street over, and buy my big, healthy annuals there. I usually get them in the ground a week or two later, and quite often some of them survive. By the end of summer, the weeds are high enough that I could bale them and donate them to the deserving cows at the local farm where we get our ice cream. Everytime I walk past the gardens, I feel sad, as though I’ve failed somehow. Or worse, like Charlie Brown and his pathetic little Christmas Tree, with not a security blanket in sight.
So for the last couple of years, I’ve been trying something different. Instead of annuals, I’ve been collecting perennials in an effort to reduce the work and maximize the reward. But I haven’t bought a single one. I’ve solicited them from people I love, including my mom and Sister Scribe PJ Sharon. And I actually planted them in the ground, and gave them some water and fertilizer to start off (after that they’re on their own).
So far, this experiment is working pretty well! I’ve got healthy perennials growing. Some, like the lily-of-the valley and the bleeding heart, have gone by. Others, like the big red day lilies and the black eyed Suzes and the tall phlox and bee balm in various colors tease me with their foliage, which I know is just the foreplay for a future gorgeous display of flowers. Now I walk by those gardens with joy and pride. They’re not perfect, and they still need much work, but they are beautiful to me and full of positive energy.
What made the difference? I think it’s because the plants were shared. I’m invested in them in a way I never am with plants I buy. When someone gives freely, both the recipient and the giver reap the benefits. So give what you can, whether it’s time, expertise, money, a note or phone call to a friend, or a simple Facebook post or Tweet about a book you enjoyed. When something is offered to you, be it a physical item or an offer of support, don’t automatically turn it down. The giver may need the act more than you. You’ll be glad you did.
And if anyone has any purple coneflower (echinacea), pink peonies, and/or a Shasta daisy that need dividing, let me know! I’ll be there in a heartbeat with shovel in hand.
What about you? Do you have a green thumb, or are you the kiss of death for plants?