Time to play in the dirt

As the ad for the garden center says – “Time to go play in the dirt!” – now that summer is here, it is my time to play in my flower garden. We started working several years ago on a large area for my “play garden”. Keith marked off a large kidney shaped area, had dirt brought in and I spent one whole summer mixing peat moss in and spreading the dirt around. Then I started transplanting from different plants we had in our other overgrown beds and looking for anything unique and colorful.

Over the years, I have come to feel like our flowers are old friends, and I look forward to seeing them each spring. Around the middle of February, our little daffodils quietly push their heads up and say “Hang in there, spring is around the corner!” We have transplanted hundreds of what I call the “wild”daffodils, little yellow guys that are kind of quiet, but are so welcome! They truly give hope during a time when we are tired of cold. A few weeks later, their “store bought” cousins come up, big and showy, with several pretty combinations of pale yellow and deep orange centers. Then about the end of March their other cousins, the small sweet smelling narcissus come out. I love to pick these to put in the house because they make the whole place smell wonderful. The daffodils keep us going through the still cool days of March.

As April comes along, our irises make their appearance – tall and gorgeous, but short-lived. Some of my irises came from my grandmother’s house and I love the different colors mixed together.

Next come the daisies. For years before we started the garden, we had a little patch of white daisies that bloomed at the side of the yard until Keith would mow over them. So after we started the flower garden, he dug a few up and we planted them. The next spring these nice little flowers that we had rescued from the lawn mower turned into gremlins! They ran and cavorted all over the garden like a bunch of unruly kids! They have taken over, but because this is my play garden, I don’t mind. I have enjoyed their cool crisp white flowers against the coneflowers that have started blooming, and soon I will pull them up and cut them back to get ready for the stars of the garden – the daylilies.

Keith and I fell in love with daylilies when we first started sticking stuff in the ground. They have got to be the easiest flower to grow as long as they have a sunny spot and the different types are endless. We have a long row that gets overgrown with weeds, so we chose the prettiest and rarest ones to put in the flower garden. Last year we bought a few more and I am anxiously waiting to see their colors. They will bloom for most of June and that is when the yard is at its finest.

As the dog days of summer come along in July and August, I will enjoy the multitude of colors blooming. I am always looking for something new and different to stick in my garden. Driving back and forth to North Carolina when Mama was in the nursing home, I would stop at farmer’s markets and garden centers and get a new flower every time. I have a neat plant called a balloon flower that sports purple flowers that look like little Chinese lanterns. Orange coneflowers, yellow lantana, burgundy dahlias, and a beautiful lavender butterfly bush are already coming up. I am going for the English country garden look, not formal or rigid – a place without rules. When I am feeling the pressures of meeting everyone’s expectations and dealing with the stresses of work, my flower garden is a place that is just for me, done how I want it.

Gardening teaches me patience and makes me look to the future. We recently got a bunch of free trees at the Garden Club Arbor Day giveaway and planted some dogwoods in the garden. I will be 70 or 80 before they are any size! I hope if I am not here to look after them that someone will. Like my Daddy and Granddaddies before me, I love to watch things grow. My cat Nellie sits by me as I pull weeds and pinch back flowers, and I listen to the birds and God and I talk. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend the summer!


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