Lots of us dream about accomplishing something that makes others shake their heads in wonder. My funky lifetime wish has been to grow an old-fashioned gramma’s flower garden full of purple, blue, and pink larkspur and bachelor buttons; orange, red, and yellow Indian blankets; lavender cosmos; yellow and white daisies; and multi-color hollyhocks. Despite lifetime efforts and lots of money spent on seeds, it’s taken me 40 years and aspringtime of gentle, well-timed, ample rains to make my dream come true.
The irony of this beautiful flowerbed makes me chuckle. I left town and abandoned it to Mother Nature’s care for weeks. During that time, it had no encouragement. No weeding, no fertilizing, no thinning out plants, no early morning sitting on the paving stones dreaming about the pretty bouquets I hoped to harvest and display in my kitchen window. Apparently, dirt and seeds enjoy benign neglect because I drove up after that absence to spy thriving pinks, purples, blues, lavenders, whites, yellows, oranges, and reds spilling over garden borders and waving wildly in evening breezes. They were everything I’d hoped for all the years I’d planted store-bought seed and carefully tended previous endeavors.
So, the next irony in this story is that girlfriends gave me hollyhock and larkspur seeds a few years ago. I then harvested bachelor button and Indian blanket seeds that I’d planted two summers ago and sprinkled those among my friends’ gifts. None of this year’s crop came from miserly garden shop packets. Nope, these were homegrown. Two fellow gardeners and I collected dried pods from previous years’ growth, separated the tiny seeds, and then saved them in paper bags to share.
The hollyhocks, bachelor buttons, Indian blanket, and larkspur took a year to gain a solid foothold in my yard. Last summer, I had scraggly, hesitant blooms--nothing like the towers of frothy color dancing boldly under this spring’s sun. In addition to the rain helping, I suspect good old Kansas breezes had something to do with the expansion of my plantings. A few seeds blew south and started new growth. Then stout southerly winds tumbled the majority of them north across our driveway until they landed in a bed of wood chips. Imagine my surprise to see them take root and grow.
By allowing nature to take its course, I ended up with stunning flowers in places I didn’t sow them. Initially, I thought I’d pull the unplanned starts, but I’m glad I didn’t. Not only do I have a new bed of larkspur and bachelor buttons outdoing itself on the other side of the drive, I have hollyhocks in places I never expected to find them. They proudly belong.
Perhaps letting Mother Nature do her thing in the sowing and watering is the secret to a successful old-fashioned, Gramma’s garden. That saucy anthropomorph has done a stellar job taking seeds friends gave me, multiplying and then tossing them in the wind, and raining on them to show me how to get the job done. I’m going to help her out by harvesting, drying, and passing on these tiny power packs of beauty to my daughters and my friends.