I stood back and looked at the pretty burgundy flower pots sitting on my deck — filled and overflowing with nearly-dead flowers.
How is it that I always seem to choose the plants without the will to live? While the mornings were still chilly and frosty, I planted my greenhouse full of watermelon plants, garden plants and some flowers for color. The plants grew, the frost took a summer sabbatical and we all got ready for the hot season.
My husband is happy to help with the garden — as long as he can do it from the seat of a tractor. Which meant that he rototilled, and my boys helped me transplant all the trays of plants — or, as the local rodent population refers to it, the all-you-can-eat buffet.
We planted cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and all manner of pepper plants. We grew morning glory, kochia, squash and puncture vine. Have you ever noticed how squash and puncture vines never fail to reach maturity? You can spray them with acid, beat them with shovels, even burn them under a propane torch — and yet they seem to love every minute of it!
Gardening requires a lot of water — most of it in the form of perspiration — which may be why mine looks like a lovely patch of goat heads with small, almost indiscernible, rows of produce. But, while Seeds + Water + Sun + Dirt = Weeds in the garden, I was pleased with my flower pots full of lovely annuals and perennials my kids and I planted around the house — at least initially. Then they too began to show their true colors — and I don’t mean with beautiful blossoms.
“What’s the difference between an annual and a perennial?” my son asked.
“Well an annual dies every year. And a perennial? They die as soon as they leave the greenhouse.”
As the summer wore on, the temperatures rose, my flowers drooped — and the weeds thrived.
I’ve read that plants react to people’s voices, and that soothing words make them grow better and healthier. Don’t believe it. I pulled weeds. I yelled at the weeds. I called the weeds mean names and hit them on the head. I scolded them in my most gruff voice — and they multiplied as fast as the rabbits eating my garden.
When it comes to weeding, some people have advised the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it was a valuable plant. While there is definitely truth to that, I think that a better way to tell is to pull them both up — whatever grows back is the weed. But be warned: Give the weeds an inch, and they’ll quickly take your yard!
Rock gardens might be a better choice for my green thumb. Then again, the person who owned our property before us must not have had good luck with them either. I think the rocks must have all died, because he sure buried an awful lot of them!
I recently was talking with one of my dad’s high school classmates. She currently lives in Arizona and was back in Oregon for their reunion. She was telling us about the beautiful blue pots that sit on her deck. “It’s Arizona — plants get ‘dehydrated’ so quickly that it’s best to buy beautiful pots and plant them with fake flowers!”
Dehydration! That’s it! I didn’t have “dead” plants in the pots on my deck — they were only dehydrated. All they need is a little IV (imitation vegetation), and they’ll look as good as real... er, I mean new!
I imagined my flower pots filled with beautiful fake flowers. I’m afraid, though, that fake plants would probably die too because I’d forget to pretend to water them.
As I look around the lovely patch of kochia, goat heads and rows of dehydrated flowers that we affectionately call home, I decided the only thing I grow well in my garden is tired.
Weeds, dehydration and fake flowers — if only people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of life jackets and an overstock of shovels, pots and silk flowers.
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.