There Will be Hope

There’s something very hopeful about preparing a new garden bed, not just the hope for new flowers, but hope for the future — hope that there will be a future. That hope keeps me going despite the hard work, and it is hard, even if the plot is only about 25-square feet. That’s a lot of digging, especially if what’s beneath the soil is a tangle of Bermuda grass roots as well as a tree root or two. (From a tree that was cut down years ago.)

I enjoy looking at that bare ground (well, bare except for the bits of vegetation that resist being raked up) and thinking about what I will plant. I know one thing I will plant are New England asters. When I first mentioned those plants years ago, a blog reader warned me that they tend to spread and even take over. In my smugness as a new gardener, I responded that I liked plants that spread because they save me from planting more. And I do like them. The problem is that the single stem I started with grew into a mass with several stems, so I divided them and replanted, and now each of those stems has become a clump of several stems. So now I need to figure out what to do with them all. A gardener friend wants some, so that’s a start. I know where I want a few more, so that’s good. In the end, I think, I’ll plant what’s left in my uncultivated area and let them take over. I bet they would lovely in a large mass!

Part of my newly cultivated area will be planted with grass — I need an area I can mow to give me access to the back of the garden. With no access, I ended up with a whole lot of weeds and weedy grasses. The lilies that were planted in that area rose above the weeds, and were lovely, but I want to give them less competition — except, of course, from the additional lilies I ordered a couple of days ago. Luckily, lilies don’t mind being crowded, so if my lilies — new and old — ever decide to multiply, I won’t have to divide them as I do with the asters. I’m still hoping for a lily forest. Apparently, it takes years for lilies to reach their full height, but a clearing in front of the lilies will help them and will help me help them.

As for what else I will plant — I’m not sure. I might just wait until spring and see if anything volunteers to grow in the area. Volunteers are those plants that grow on their own, sometimes seemingly appearing out of nowhere, though chances are they were seeds blown in on the wind or dropped from birds.

My favorite of these volunteers this summer has been the aptly-named heavenly blue morning glory. There have been one or two blooms every day for a couple of weeks now. I’m thinking of getting seeds and planting some on purpose next year, but sometimes, for me, the on-purpose plants don’t always grow as well as the volunteers.

Still, no matter what will go in the area I cleared today, there will be hope.


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.

The Good Today

I had a lovely surprise today. I heard a knock on the back door, which was unusual — visitors come straight to the front door rather than meander through my yard to the back. I opened the door, and one of the workers employed by my contractor was standing there with a shovel. “I’ve come to build your raised garden,” he said.

Although the garden has been on their do-to list for a year or two, it hasn’t been a priority. It was more important to me to have these people replace the roof of the house I am looking after for an absent friend. And then today, apparently, my raised garden did become a priority. It’s not really important in the grand scheme of things — the area could just as easily have been a ground-level garden like my other garden spots, but I wanted a different sort of accent in the yard. I have no idea what the finished “box” will look like — my only instructions were to build it 18” high with boards across the ends that I could use as a bench.

The worker was also one who laid my sod, so I cornered him to ask about my brown grass. It did surprise him, the contrast between the bright green healthy area and the dead-looking swath a mere three feet away. He does think, though, that since the sod is well seated and the grass doesn’t yield to being pulled on, the grass is still alive, just dormant. This pleases me in a “grass half full/half empty” sort of way. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.) There is a chance the grass will green up, but meantime, it’s not very pretty.

What I do find pretty are some of the flowers that showed their faces today, especially this petunia. This is one that planted itself and is completely different from the original dark red flower that went to seed.

Speaking of pinks, this one is not only pink but is called a pink, which is another name for dianthus.

And another Heavenly Blue morning glory bloomed. I still don’t know where they came from, but they are welcome all the same.

What aren’t welcome are the mushrooms. We haven’t been getting any more rain, but the humidity is so unusually high that the dew on the ground in the morning is dense, and apparently, such wetness is the perfect environment for mushrooms and toadstools of all kinds. Most pull right up, but a couple were so entrenched I had to dig them out, and a couple even grew in the ornamental rocks around the foundation around the house.

And in the interest of truth — I did spray the herbicide to try to control the Bermuda grass, but nothing happened. Oh, well. As I said once before, it’s about accepting the bad with good, and today, so far, the good has been very good.

One last item: another worker also showed up, and when I opened the garage to show him some boards he could use, this second worker just stopped and stared. It took me a minute to realize he was staring at my car, thoroughly entranced. Gotta love car guys!

So yes, the good today was very good.


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Stunning Developments

The weather we have been dealing with this summer — extraordinary heat, occasional wild winds, and periodic rain — seems to be the perfect incubator for weeds of a particularly voracious nature. Every time it rains, whatever weeds I have just pulled grow back and bring along their whole extended families. With as rough a time as I have been having keeping my vegetation under control, it could be worse — I could be dealing with a yard full of waist-high weeds like a couple of people in the neighborhood.

Instead, there have been a few stunning developments besides the unpleasant ones dished out by the ravaging weeds and the tireless sun. This heavenly blue morning glory, for example.

I have no idea where it came from, but oh, it is lovely! Another wonderful development were the orange poppies; like the heavenly blue morning glory, I have no idea where they came from, but they are welcome all the same.

One development of a rather weird nature is this marigold. It was supposed to be a giant marigold; instead, it’s a dwarf. But dramatic for all that.

The petunias, both light

and dark keep chugging along no matter what the weather, bringing cheer to me and my yard.

The final stunning development was (is) this green zinnia. I vaguely remember planting the seeds, but since I don’t really expect anything to come up, I tend not to remember what exactly I planted. That anything decides to grow in this bipolar climate is amazing. Though it’s not exactly bipolar, is it? If this were really a bipolar climate, it would be winter all year round (half Arctic and half Antarctic) instead of very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer.

At least today the weather is rather moderate and will continue to be so for a few more days.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.