Gardening and Life

Last year, I planted black and white petunias in large pots and when winter came, I just left the dead plants where they were. I didn’t see any reason to clear them out because they’d be covered with snow anyway. Today, when I cleaned out the desiccated plants, I noticed some seedlings in the pot. They didn’t seem like weeds, though I’m sure some weed seedlings have smooth, rounded leaves like these little guys.

I looked online for images of petunia seedlings, on the off chance that the flowers had reseeded themselves, and sure enough, those seedlings are petunias. I didn’t know that they could reseed themselves. I’m considering letting them get large enough to transplant, and then plant them in the garden to see if they would become a permanent fixture. Or not. These petunias were black and white, and I’m not sure how much color they would add. But I’ll wait and see how I feel when it gets to that point.

One of my future flower projects will be to start cultivating self-seeders. I like when flowers come up on their own without my intervention because I don’t have luck with seeds, though it does look as if some of the California poppies are starting to come up. (So far, those are the only seeds from the wildflower mix that I planted last fall that’s making an appearance.) Come to think of it, I’ve planted several varieties of flowers that are supposed to reseed themselves, but the only one I’ve ever had any luck with is larkspur, so much so, that I have many areas where larkspur is growing.

As my yard takes hold, when the bushes and perennials are established so I know what areas to focus on, that will be the time to “fine tune” the garden, to fill in weedy spots and to find out what plants will do well here in this area of weather extremes. That could still be years. My raised garden hasn’t been built yet, so when that’s done, it will be a whole summer’s project just getting it filled in and planted. And there is a long strip of weeds and grass going toward the alley that I’m not going to worry about until the back pathway is finished.

It’s interesting to me that I have become so fixated on my yard and gardening. It’s never been something I’ve been interested in, though I have always loved seeing other people’s beautiful yards. The only times I ever tried gardening was when I was about seven or eight and my mother gave me a small garden spot to play with. I planted sweet williams, and some even came up, but I never repeated the experience until Jeff and I tried to garden. The only thing we could grow were lilacs and Siberian elms. Everything else, absolutely everything else except weeds, including several six-foot trees, disappeared into the jaws of grasshoppers. Voracious creatures! I get scared every time I see one in my yard now, but so far, they’ve been courteous eaters, only nibbling on a few things and leaving the rest alone.

And now, here I am, spending hours every day outside, grooming my yard.

Life does strange things to all of us.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Hunting the Wild Poppy

I took myself on a trip to go hunting for wild poppies. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a hunt. I had a location, maps to show me the way, and a whole day to follow wherever the road might lead me. I generally get lost when I’m by myself — a map doesn’t do much good if you’re driving and can’t look at it, and non-existent road signs only exacerbate the problem. (A gps in my phone doesn’t help if the battery goes dead.)  Still, I took only a couple of easily corrected wrong turns. I drove on long stretches of desert highway, and then I saw it . . . a poppy nodding in the wind by the side of the road, and I knew I was on the right track.

Gradually, the poppy blooms increased — lining the roads with streams of color.

Off in the distance, the hills glowed orange, and my heart quickened at the realization I was in for a special treat.

Many people just stopped by the side of the road to take photos of the poppies, but I paid to enter the reserve and walk along the miles of paths. I heeded the rules and did not feed, pet, pick, or trample the wild poppies. The reserve is a natural habitat, with no artificial stimulation, not even any watering. The land is left alone to do with as it wishes. And this year it wished to shower me with color.

Oh, my. I’ve never seen anything like those swaths of poppies — it was as if a sunset had fallen from the sky and lay at my feet.

It truly is good to know that in all the turmoil of the world, in all the fights between industrialists and conservationists, in all the swirl of population growth, in all the land-grabbing and land-grubbing, there exists these pristine spots where we can refresh our souls.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.