Planting flowers will cost you money and your sanity

Courtesy photo

On this date last year, I came home from visiting our kids in Florida where it was a blissful 80 degrees. To be clear, I came back to this frigid tundra only because I was having to return to work. Pulling into the driveway, I looked over and there was a robin, humped up like a frozen statue. As I got out of the truck, he eyed me uncertainly, but didn’t move due to being chilled. Out loud, I called, “Hey, I’m not the oddball here, it’s you. I came back because of a job, but you came back to Wyoming at this ridiculously early time of year and you don’t even have a job, you’re just a nincompoop.” I’m guessing he was thinking, “You’re talking to a bird, you’re a nincompoop.”

In Florida, collectively we outdid ourselves, hauling in nearly 20 pounds of blueberries. We were lined up on each side of the bushes, Gar and I, the kids, and our grandbabies. We were in the sun, enjoying the fresh air and laughing together. For most of us, we felt it to be a wonderful family activity, even our 5-year-old granddaughter, who picked 2 pounds all by herself. Not so with her 3-year-old sister. As we neared the end of the last row, I looked in her bucket. She’d picked 10. Ten whole berries. She was obviously like, “Na, not feelin’ it today.”

Early each spring I see hardware stores and nurseries selling bedding plants, and I have to use all the self-control I can muster not to buy the whole lot. When it comes to Dahlia, Gazania, Calibrachoa, Dianthus, Zinnias, Petunias, Osteospermum, Calendula, Cosmos, Nasturtium, Marigolds and Poppies, I’m like an addict. I love the colors, the fragrance and helping the bees, but any Wyomingite knows planting too early verifies the phrase, “A fool and her money are soon parted.”
However, flowers can go in a greenhouse, or if you’re a nutjob gardener like Gar endures, they’re placed in every single window with a southern exposure.

When I purchase flowers, I somehow always get too many. If I buy 200, it’s 199 more than I actually want to plant but there’s two reasons I end up with multiple flats — I can’t do math and I’m not quite right. At first, I’m sane and sober, putting some 4-inch pots onto my wagon. That leads to 6-packs, a lot of 6-packs. I eye it all and think, “What the heck, grab some 8-packs.” When I get home, I always feel a little shaky about the future endeavor and how many I have to put into barrels, baskets or the ground. When it comes to plants, I can’t be taught.

One day last March, I was talking on the phone with my grafted-in-daughter and on a whim, she said, “You should grow some flowers in the house.”
Agreeing this was a good idea, I said, “Ya, I’ll grow a few.”  A “few” sounds manageable, not like a crazed maniac, but by the time I was done, I’d planted 280 seedlings in every solo and styrofoam cup, every plastic and glass jug and even egg cartons. I don’t know what happened except I had some seeds, then I bought some seeds and then I lost my mind. We couldn’t sit on any piece of furniture for two months because every couch, chair, ottoman and side table held cake pans and cookie sheets full of flowers.

On planting day, knowing the task at hand, I ate my Wheaties, and started early, gathering all necessary items, and lugging all the plants outside. My pool boy was mowing the lawn, but would stop periodically to carry dirt and manure around the gardens. At 2:00 in the afternoon, I came in the house wobbling. I wasn’t done, but needed sustenance. I was so tired, I simply mashed a too-ripe banana into a bowl, poured cream over it and gummed it down.  I couldn’t take time to rest, so by sheer will headed back out the door. Eyeing my suspicious staggering to the last flat, my helper surely thought I’d had a 3-martini lunch. Seeing him scrutinizing me, I said, “Buddy, here’s the deal. One minute you’re a champion, a gladiator, a crusader, and the next minute you realize all that has a very short shelf life.”

He nodded politely, but I’m fairly certain he wanted to ask, “So, when God was handing out braincells, did you think He said bluebells and that you’d take a few?”