I am not a dedicated gardener. I never have been.
I always appreciated beautiful flowers and the people who can grow them, but I was grateful for the weeds in the yard when the kids were little. At least they were green.
There was a patch of orange day lilies in the backyard that survived the kids’ growing years. There also were several pink peonies and an old fashioned rosebush that seemed to thrive, probably because I ignored them.
As our family grew up, they and their neighborhood friends stopped using our backyard as the universal playground. Grass began to grow again.
Somewhere between the children and the grandchildren, we began to grow flowers along the fence rows. Bill’s mom could make almost any flower grow, and each time she would visit us she’d sow seeds and bulbs.
There was a whole bed of orange poppies that bloomed every spring along with blue iris and other flowers I’ve forgotten.
They all survived the growing children and being drowned with water or dried without it. They lived in spite of being stomped by our big dogs or eaten by the various wild animals that inhabited our backyard.
They even survived the early power mowers guided through the yard by inexperienced hands.. They made a valiant fight, but they finally succumbed to the slashing blades of the riding mower.
It wasn’t that the operator of that mower intended to run over the flowers. “It just happened,” or so he said. First the peonies disappeared. “They draw ants,” he said. Next the poppies were gone. “I didn’t realize what they were until I mowed them down,” he said.
Since we retired I started several different day lilies in the side yard. There were yellow ones, and pink ones, and deep red ones. They bloomed last year, and it looked like they spread this year. But then the riding mower appeared. Goodbye day lilies. Hello lawn.
There seems to be something about power tools that mesmerize the most devoted of men. Maybe they can’t resist the roar. And the riding mower really does roar, and slice, and cut, and leave a lovely green carpet behind.
But over the past few years, I have found a sanctuary for the flowers that I tend one day each year. If I want them to survive the slashing blades, I plant them in long rectangular boxes or pots that are placed in strategic places about the green lawn.
Then Bill waters them and weeds them and keeps his riding mower away from them. They look pretty all summer, and I mourn their death in the autumn.
I planted the blue morning glories, and they’re coming up along the fence already. If Bill keeps watering them and we don’t have a late frost, we should have a bumper crop. Unless, of course, somebody finds the weed whacker, or the riding mower goes wild again.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on May 27, 1998.