Saturday, March 15, 2014


I was at Tractor Supply yesterday.  They had a beautiful display of spring plants, seeds and bulbs.  Their garden gear was beautifully and prominently set alongside the display.  It was enough for anyone to imagine that if you picked up a pair of gloves and a few plants, you, too, could have a lovely garden.

I picked up a couple of forsythia.

No, no, I wasn't influenced by the display.  Although, I have to admit, I did linger in the gardening section for far too long.  I was influenced into buying forsythia by my daughter.  I have been looking for forsythia, and Tractor Supply was the first place I've found it.  You see, last year my daughter and I were at a Home Show together and she remarked how much she loved forsythia.  Forsythia!  I have always heard other gardeners remark how forsythia was just a green blob when not in bloom.  Influenced by their disgust, I never imagined it in my garden.  

But suddenly, it was her remark - no, it was the tone of pure joy in her voice at seeing a forsythia - that began to influence me.  I imagined two forsythias close by the catenary (which I am still working on, and is not ready for a reveal yet), with yellow daffodils in the grass across the way, and yellow carolina jessamine blooms on the vegetable garden fence nearby.  And when it's not in bloom, the unassuming forsythia will let the autumn grasses that are planted there, shine.  

It's interesting, but my entire spring garden plan was influenced by her three little words "I love forsythia".

We gardeners are easily influenced.  And it seems, we also love to influence others.   Take my favorite spring bloom so far this year, the checkered lily, fritillaria meleagris.  I had long admired this bloom in photos, but never dreamed of having them in my Texas garden.  That is, until Alistair of Aberdeen Gardening convinced me that they just might live in my garden, and that they were certainly worth a try.  And so, try is what I did. 

Last year, I purchased and planted several bulbs, and put them in two different areas.  One area stays moist, while the other area is a bit drier.  And lo and behold, they are both coming up.  They are the bloom that I am most excited about this year.  Will they return next year?  Not sure, but it will be fun finding out!

My great-grandmother's daffodils have influenced me, too.  I decided I wanted daffodils growing in the grass just as they still do at her house, 30+ years after her death.

I started planting them last year.  They are such a cheerful display, and I think of her whenever I see them.  But it is the photo of the daffodils blooming in debsgarden that has given me resolve to continue adding to my little display.  Maybe one day my daffodils will be give such a lush showing.

Sweet little species tulips are another bloom that I have been delighted to see.  Tulips don't return here, and I'm much too lazy to dig them up and replant every year.  While I was ordering bulbs last autumn, I read about species tulips.  I read that they might, just might, return every year in hot-weather gardens.  That small possibility is all it took to influence me to add them to my garden.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Who has influenced the blooms in your garden lately?

I'm joining May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where there is a lot of influencing going on!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What Are the Odds?

"You should come inside.  They're looking for an escapee."

Now it made sense.  I had heard dogs barking.  And guns shooting.  It was odd, but I was busy.  Much too busy to stop because of some strange commotion.

You see, I was outside pruning the roses.  It's a Seasonal Celebration that I look forward to each and every early spring.  To a non-gardener, or even to a non-rose-loving gardener, pruning roses seems like a chore.  And I have to admit, it takes me several days of concentrated effort to prune all the roses in my garden.  And even with long sleeves and rose gauntlets on, I always end up scratched and bloodied.  But I still get excited every year about pruning the roses.  To me, it means that blooms will soon be on the way.

This year I was trying hard to prune all my roses within a few days.  I wanted all my roses to come into their peak all around the same time, and I thought the odds of that happening would be much greater if I pruned all my roses within a short time frame.  Visions of my garden in full bloom filled my mind.  That's why a chore - pruning - is a celebration I look forward to all winter.

But this particular escapee had come from Georgia.  They had caught his accomplice.  He was desperate.  And he had been seen in the area, with a gun.  People around here don't lock their vehicles.  Sometimes, people around here don't even lock their doors at night.  We are not used to crime.  It is still something shocking when it happens.  And someone had left their vehicle unlocked, with a gun inside.  The escapee had stolen the gun.

I went inside.

All night long, helicopters flew overhead.  He was close.  He was very close.  But they just couldn't catch him.  The next morning, we drove to the post office.  There was law enforcement everywhere.  And no sign of the escapee.

What to do?  I needed to garden!  I couldn't waste a beautiful day!  I weighed the odds.  The odds of an encounter with an escapee seemed pretty unlikely, even if he was in the area.  And I would be armed with pruners!  Maybe not much of a weapon against a gun, but I was guessing he didn't want to be seen.  And I knew that spring was coming.  The odds of spring coming was much higher than the sighting of an escapee.

And so, my husband armed me with pepper spray and a walkie talkie.  And I went outside to prune.  I decided to prune in the back.  If law enforcement saw me, they might mistake me for the escapee, and I didn't want to get shot by accident.

I was on high alert.  I listened for the rustling of leaves.  Vigilantly, I listened to the birds for any sign of danger - complete silence or agitated twittering.  I watched for sudden flight.  And my eyes scanned the woods for movement.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of pruning done.

Finally, my husband came outside.  "He's gone."

The escapee had stolen an unlocked vehicle in the middle of the night not five miles from my house.

They spotted him again about a week later in Alabama.  Again, he evaded capture.  From Georgia to Texas back to Alabama?  I hope he's on his way back to Georgia to turn himself in.

My roses responded to the pruning gloriously.  New little leaves popped out on my roses bushes.  I was optimistic about my roses bursting into glorious blooms all at the same time.

But Mother Nature (or maybe it was Old Man Winter) had other thoughts.  The escapee is not the only one that has gone back and forth.  The temperatures have too - from sun-burning 78 to a very chilly 17 degrees.  All those sweet new little rose leaves are now black and shriveled.  My dreams of a glorious display have withered and died, too.  The roses will eventually bloom, but it won't be the same.  I had done the work, but will not see the results I had hoped for.

I am disappointed.  Extremely disappointed.  But not too surprised.  That's the Lesson Learned that all gardeners learn eventually.  Like a desperate escapee, the weather is never predictable.  You have to keep alert to it.  Odds are, it will come into the garden some time during the year, wreaking havoc.  It can be record cold, an extreme drought, or scorching summer temperatures.  Some years, it's all three.  And the weather is something we will never capture.  We gardeners just have to keep gardening.  We can't waste a beautiful day.  Because most of all, we have to keep hoping for that glorious year of our dreams.

I'm joining Donna at Gardens Eye View for Seasonal Celebrations, and Beth at Plant Postings for Lessons Learned.

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