There was a time when I felt overwhelmed by the needs of my children. The attention they demanded caused me to abandon my interest in taking care of any other living things, specifically my plants. I believe I have one houseplant which survived those toddler years. It is a shadow of its former self, but seems determined to remain a member of the household.
As the boys became more independent and able to entertain themselves a bit better, I started acquiring plants again. There was a rubber tree I inherited after a friend’s move, a fern or two, a couple of plants my brother no longer wanted. My house once again had bright spots of greenery. It was time to direct my attention elsewhere…
My front yard is the size of a postage stamp. When I moved in 18 years ago, there were a couple of rose bushes and some grass. Simple. And boring. Over the years , friends have shared their perennials with me, beginning with Sharon and her purple cone flowers. I remember her bringing over clumps of flowers and my not getting them into the ground for days. I was skeptical that they would survive my neglect, but they have thrived in the sunniness of my front yard.
A few years later, the cone flowers were joined by Black-eyed Susans. I love the sturdy cheeriness of these and usually cut some to have in the house. I like to put them in an old glass pitcher with the baby’s breath my brother gave me a few years back. The baby’s breath fills in an area of my garden directly in front of the red bee balm and purple balloon flowers which my friend Donna gave to me. It’s one of my favorite little spots this time of the year when everything looks so lush.
There are shasta daisies and a variety of ever multiplying lilies, also. The grass is long gone and mulch and rocks fill in the garden in the few bare areas which remain. My iris, given to me by both my brother and my friend, Lisa, have long since bloomed, but I’ll need to thin those out come fall because they have taken off. They’re surrounded in their home in my parking strip by colorful snapdragons. I don’t recall ever planting snapdragons, but an elderly neighbor always had them in her front garden and I suspect that is where mine originated. I think she’d be happy to know that she left behind some life on our block.
Come fall, I also plan to thin out the geraniums I was given by a work friend. They would take over if I didn’t keep my eye on them! The peony, which was originally in my shady backyard, has settled into its sunny home and thanked me for its new digs by bestowing bloom upon bloom. I’ll be splitting that this fall, as well. Right now the peony is home to a cat which Jeter is constantly trying to flush out. Each time he brushes past the star-gazer lilies he marks himself with pollen. Guess that makes him a flower, too, almost.
The biggest surprise in the garden this summer are the sunflowers. After years of planting seeds with limited success, this year I left the work to the birds. They have thanked me for my mostly constant feedings by spreading sunflowers throughout my garden. In return, when they’re done blooming I will harvest the seeds and give them back to the birds. Without the birds and my generous friends, my garden, and my life, would be a far less beautiful existence.