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.

Monsoon Season Flowers

I was surprised, many years ago, to learn that Colorado had a monsoon season. “Monsoon” always made me think of places like Thailand and Singapore with their afternoon deluges that brought traffic to a standstill, and Colorado seldom gets that sort of rain, which makes “monsoon” seem a strong word for the weak rains we sometimes get in July and August.

Although most people associate “monsoon” with deluges, a monsoon is actually a shift in the wind. In the case of Colorado, that wind shift brings moisture from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico into the state. According to the Colorado Climate Center, the monsoon “usually happens when a strategically centered high pressure (with clockwise flow around it) and low pressure (with counterclockwise flow around it) settle in over the region.”

The erratic and unpredictable nature of this North American monsoon is why the forecasters seem unable to tell us when or where or how much it’s going to rain. There have been days recently when they predicted 10% chance of rain, and we ended up with a steady downpour. Other days they have predicted a 90% chance of rain, and we ended up with nary a drop. And some days the forecast changed so frequently, no one and nothing had any idea what was going to happen, not even the weather itself.

This week, rain or no, we seem to be centered solidly in the monsoon wind pattern. The days are still and dry, but most evenings we have at least a splattering of rain. A couple of nights ago it rained for several hours, the longest rain we’ve had all year. It rained a bit last night, and after a respite of — perhaps — no precipitation tonight, there’s a chance of rain every evening for the rest of the week.

I have learned a couple of things during this monsoon week: 1) the browning of certain areas of my lawn isn’t due to lack of moisture, and 2) this is not a good time of year for hanging baskets. I’ve had to settle those hanging plants firmly on the ground so they don’t take flight in the late-night winds. By the time the winds are gone and I hang up my plants again, it will probably be too late in the season for flowers. Still, plants are nice, wherever they are.

Well, some plants. The rain sure is making the weeds spring up! And it’s making the already sprung-up weeds grow horrendously fast. I’ve cleared out the tallest weeds, though my garden patches have been neglected. Luckily, as you can see, I still managed to find a few flowers to photograph.

Incidentally, all the white flowers pictured are volunteers, planting themselves where they’ve been assured a warm (and wet) welcome.


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.