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.

Sweating the Small Stuff

I try to live by the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff,” but sometimes it is impossible to do especially since some of the really small stuff seems to be the biggest stuff.

Some of the small things I am currently sweating are mosquitoes, gnats, and other insects. They wouldn’t be a problem if they left me alone, but already, so early in the season, I am dealing with mosquito bites, gnats up my nose, grasshoppers eating my petunias. (Luckily, so far the petunias are all the hoppers seem to like, though they have nibbled on other plants to see if that foliage were to their liking.) There’s not much I can do about the gnats or the grasshoppers, but I have sprayed permethrin on my gardening clothes (khaki pants rather than my usual black because mosquitoes love black) and I use eucalyptus lemon oil on my face and hands, but they still manage to get me despite those precautions. It’s possible they get into the house at night and feast on me then, but I’ve only seen one mosquito in the house so far. (Although I would never hurt a fly, I have no compunction about offing critters that drink my blood.)

Another small thing that I sweated was an eyelash that got caught in my eye. I couldn’t get it out last night, though after a while I couldn’t find it anymore, so I thought perhaps I’d removed it without knowing I’d done so. Today, however, I woke up with a sore eye. I finally found the lash masquerading as an inflamed blood vessel. I eventually managed to work it over to the corner of my eye where I was able to scrape it off. That is one “small stuff” I had to sweat because it’s not good to have something foreign in one’s eyes.

And yet another small thing that looms large is that each of the past few evenings, I’ve had tearful moments of missing Jeff. After eleven years, most people would think that missing him should no longer be an issue, especially since I’m doing okay, but occasionally it is. I’ve been trying to be upbeat, to see the good in my present life, to not look back but not look forward, either. Neither looking back nor forward does me any good. There is nothing I can do about the past because it’s done and there’s nothing I can do about the future because that is out of my control. Besides, aging is a factor in my future, though people often disagree and tell me that it isn’t. The truth is, looking to the future, I can see myself getting older and feebler and trying to do the best for myself with diminishing strength and energy, and that’s not something I want to dwell on now.

So I look to today, but sometimes, as it has the past few evenings, that concentration on today seems . . . phony. As if I’m trying to be someone I’m not.

Still, there’s nothing I can do about Jeff being gone, and all I can do about missing him is let myself feel bad for a few minutes then dissipate the sadness with some sort of activity. Last night I dissipated those sad energies with dusting the furniture and dry mopping the floors.

Nor can I do anything about the other small stuff I’m sweating, including literally sweating — it was already eighty degrees when I went out to water the garden this morning. (It’s now 95 degrees Faranheit, 35 Celcius.)

Although a more positive or upbeat attitude seems phony to me, as if I’m not being true to myself, I tend to think it’s not really phony but simply another way of dealing with whatever comes my way. And what’s coming my way, for the most part, are a few flowers here and there.

I am glad to have the flowers, and glad that the hoppers around here aren’t as voracious as they were where Jeff and I lived. I blamed myself for my inability to grow a garden back then, thinking it was due to a brown thumb, but it was actually due to the large, brown grasshoppers that ate everything down to the ground, even the three-foot trees we planted. (The only things they left alone were lilacs and Siberian elms.) So I am grateful that I’ve managed to grow anything!

See? Even in a post about my various “small stuff” troubles, I end up with a glad and grateful attitude, though that wasn’t my intention.

Phony or not, that seems to be the way I am now.

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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