In my neighborhood, women aren’t judged by the size of their diamonds. That would be prideful.
Nor are they judged by designer labels or gowns. Most wear calico dresses they make themselves. Veiled buns are the hairstyle of choice. A luxury car is rarer than a hen’s tooth. Ladies around here hitch up and head for town in buggies.
But, those same women whose manner of dress and way of living is known as plain…in their gardens create artistic masterpieces worthy of display in any museum. Beds of lavender phlox spring up through silvery rocks in contrast to pink spring tulips. Clumps of blue salva alternate with red geraniums. Tubs and old wagons overflow with colorful pansies. Red petunias then white petunias then purple ones line long, winding drives. Wildflowers abound in uncultivated fields.
A ride to town through the country is one of my greatest pleasures. It’s also the source of intimidation and pressure. Because I want to fit in. And before I met DH, the only flower I ever planted was a marigold.
To avoid failure, I bought expensive already done-up hanging baskets. And the prettiest flowers the greenhouse had. Mission accomplished. A piece of cake.
Only I didn’t know you were supposed to deadhead blooms once they’d wilted. I had no idea how much water impatiens drink. Or that they don’t do well in direct sun. Or that they should be fertilized.
I put my geraniums on my porch in the shade because I thought they were the nicest looking of my flowers and I wanted the people driving by our house to see them.
“Your flowers are looking wilted,” DH would say. But, I’d watered them the day before. They didn’t need water every day.
It is amazing how long and stringy and dried out toward the bottom petunias can get if they are never deadheaded. Or how soon geraniums quit flowering. And then there were the weeds in the front flower bed.
I didn’t take pictures of my flowers the first year.
The next summer I did better. Because I didn’t want to take chances, I still bought expensive already-done hanging baskets. But, I read the directions on the flower tabs. (Before buying, even.) My mother explained deadheading and gave me starts. On one happy day a lady at the greenhouse complimented me on my flowers after I told her where I lived.
That was two years ago.
This spring, I did my own hanging basket arrangements. Some were even from $5 flats of “not such good looking” flowers and $1.25 geraniums purchased from kids raising funds for their 4-H club.
There were mistakes.
I accidently pulled out a bunch of what I thought were weeds. Except, the one weed I missed grew into a tall, lovely and out of place looking, lone flower, right in the middle of the bed. I didn’t have the heart to pull it.
My beds are kind of haphazard because I forgot what I planted where last year and perennials have popped up unexpectedly between annuals on sale I couldn’t resist. But, my new flower hobby is colorful, challenging and outdoors. Digging in dirt, strangely enough, gives me the same feeling I used to have when I painted on canvas.
I am an artist living among many great masters. As religiously as any apprentice, I study their technique. And, I dream and aspire…