A Possible Showplace

After my tulips and other spring bulbs faded, larkspur grew in that same garden. I harvested what seed I could, then had to cut down the dead larkspur stalks, so now nothing is growing in that area.

I now know I have to do a better job of “layering” for lack of a better word, making sure that after the larkspur are gone, something else grows in its place. It’s too late in the year to plant anything, so I will have that bare spot to look at for the next several months. In the fall, chances are more larkspur will grow, but meantime, it’s not very pretty.

A friend has this “layering” thing perfected. After her tulips bloomed lavishly, other types of flowers grew, and now that the second generation of flowers are gone, her garden is filled with bluebells and orange daylilies.

Admittedly, her garden is a lot older than mine and has been well-established for perhaps decades, but if I do things correctly over the next few years, perhaps I too can have flowers for many months.

I’m thinking of borrowing her idea of daylilies, even though I never done well with them, which is odd because they are supposed to be so easy to grow they have a tendency to take over a garden. Still, it’s worth a try. Or I could plant zinnias — in another area where I cleared out the larkspur, zinnias are beginning to blossom. In this case, though, they are not “layered,” but were planted next to the larkspur. So only half of that garden area is bare. Zinnias are just about the only flowers I can grow from seed, probably due more to this area than anything I am doing — at one time, 90% of the world’s zinnia seeds were grown not far from here.

I’d worry more about my lack of knowledge and experience, but this is supposed to be the project of a lifetime, so perhaps in five to ten years, I will have a showplace.

Or not. There’s still the harsh sun, lack of moisture, and alkaline clay soil, and an inexperience gardener (me) to deal with. I’m amazed I can keep anything alive. It seems the most prolific growers around here are weeds and trees that have been chopped down. Luckily, I just got word that the workers are on the way to pick up a stump grinder so they can get rid of the stumps and the unwanted “forest” that is growing from the exposed roots of the downed tree.

One more step to that possible showplace.


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

A Day in the Life of a Gardener

I’ve never particularly liked a-day-in-the-life-of-whatever blogs, either reading or writing them, but it’s finally dawning on me that’s what I do. I started out blogging about a day in the life of a writer, then went on to write about a day in the life of a griever. Later I blogged about a day in the life of a dancer, hiker, traveler, new homeowner.

And now, apparently, I am writing day-in-the-life-of-a-gardener blogs. Although I do things with my days other than garden, I can’t write about my job as a caregiver, because those hours belong to the client. Although I occasionally slip in a blog about the myriad books I’m reading, for the most part, when I close a book, that’s the end of it for me. I also spend way more time than might be good for me on a hidden object game, but it’s not interesting to talk about except perhaps to mention that I con myself into believing that the game is exercising my brain. (I tend to think it’s more ruinous for my eyes than good for my brain, but that’s what a con is — making one believe something that might not be true.)

So that leaves . . . gardening.

With that lead up, I’m sure you can guess what today’s blog is about. Yes, you guessed correctly — a day in the life of a gardener.

It’s not really that exciting a day, to be honest. The night never cooled off much, so it was already hot at daybreak, and the rising sun only added more heat to the day. Even though I was out early, I didn’t have much energy to do anything very arduous, so I watered my plants and then harvested the larkspur seeds that are ready. They are tiny things that look like poppy seeds, but luckily, they grow in a small pod that’s easy to get to. A lot of the seeds will fall wherever they will, but those I harvest will be strewn in strategic places in my yard next fall. The photo, of course, is the way the plants looked before they went to seed. It’s possible that after the seeds fall, I’ll have resurgence of flowers later in the summer.

Despite the ever-rising heat, I still managed to drag myself around the yard to take photos of the newest developments:

A white hollyhock next to the pink.

The latest blooms on the dahlia.

A few bachelor buttons that volunteered to grow in my yard.

And what might be the last cactus flower of the season.

I’m also starting to make a list of things that will need to be done in the fall besides plant the larkspur seeds, such as replant the New England aster. I notice there are several plants now where there once was but a single plant, and I’d like to spread them out. The photo is from last year. Because they are a fall-blooming flower, I won’t see any blossoms for a few more months.

It amazes me that I am starting to think of myself as a gardener. I’m really just a dilettante still, but with practice, I will become more expert. And then there will be more and prettier photos for my day-in-the-life-of-a gardener blogs.


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