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Another Day in the Country

Underlining the good stuff

© Another Day in the Country

Sheltering in place with no unnecessary cross-country travel has been a good thing for me.

This is the first summer in seven years that I can have a garden. It’s the first summer in seven years I could see my flowers bloom and know the exact color of lilies I’d planted. This all happened because of the pandemic.

Seven years ago, my grandson started first grade, my daughter went back to work full time, and I agreed to fly to California during Dagfinnr’s school breaks, where I’d be his granny-nanny.

This meant that I could plant tomatoes in May and then hope they’d survive until my return when it was time for school to start again.

But this year, while I miss spending time with my kids in California, I’m here in Kansas, spending a lot of time in my yard, and I love it!

This afternoon, as I gave the flowers an extra drink of water in all this hot wind, I sat in the shade and pondered the yard. This garden is a friendship garden, and I can name where all the perennials came from once upon a time.

The black-eyed Susans (yes, I know they have a long technical name) came from my cousin Becky 30 years ago.

“These things really proliferate,” she told me. “You’ll have to watch them or they’ll take over your yard.”

I was eager for anything that would grow in all this heat, so taking over didn’t sound like a bad thing at the time. They love sunshine, so they seem to move from one location to another as the trees have grown larger and provide more shade.

The sedums flourish in the midst of all those daisies. These plants came from my Aunt Erna’s garden half a century ago. Sedum traveled to Oregon with my mother, loved the rain and cloudy weather there, but bravely returned to Kansas with me when we established a home here in Ramona. Sedums have been shared and parceled around from yard to yard and never fail to bloom.

The zinnias growing in the back of the flower bed came from my friend Phyllis, who lives in Lindsborg and gave me zinnia seed, which came from a bed and breakfast in her town, several years ago for my birthday. We keep planting those zinnias and harvesting the seed in the fall.

The phlox in my yard came from Tim’s mom.

“They just grow wild,” she told me, “and they’ll reseed themselves.”

The daylily in the closest flowerbed to where I’m sitting in the shade is actually one I bought in Lawrence when I was at a greenhouse with my cousin Janet. It’s called a K-State lily because of its dark purplish color (which looks more red than purple to me, but we won’t tell the sports fans).

The other lilies in my yard come from Margaret, who never lived in Ramona but used to have a beautiful garden at 360th and Quail Creek Rds. She was thinning her flowers one year and gave me a bushel of plants that still thrive in our yards in Ramona. We tucked them here, there and everywhere. That’s one of the flowers I’d never seen bloom.

“What color are they?” I asked my sister, who does all of the yard work when I’m gone.

“I can’t remember,” she answered. “I was too busy watering to pay attention.”

Well, I’m paying attention this year, and they are red and yellow — and probably due for a thinning, again.

The irises that proliferate in all our yards came from Ruby Wing, mother of my childhood best friend.

“Folks are retiring and moving to a smaller place,” Janet wrote to me in California. “Do you want me to send you some of her irises?”

I did, and I had her send them straight to Ramona, where I was heading for two weeks one summer almost 30 years ago. They’re still blooming.

The chocolate mint that grows with wild abandon around my pond came from my neighbor, David. The honeysuckle vine came from Marge.

“I’ll have Art dig up a start for you out at the farm,” she told me one day when I told her how good those flowers that climbed up her clothesline pole smelled.

So, my honeysuckle vine climbs up my clothesline pole, too.

There are peony plants from Jakie, and lily of the valley that came from Uncle Hank’s used-to-be yard over on C St. There’s a pot full of geraniums that came from Jana’s flowers in California. I brought cuttings home in my suitcase to root and tend during the winter months.

Jaimie gave me a pot of yellow irises that love water when she discovered my ambition to have a backyard pond for my mother, who missed her much bigger pond on her farm in Oregon. Long ago, those irises abandoned the pot and began walking with impunity all over the backyard.

In the years since I’ve returned to Kansas to garden, I’ve bought bushels of tulip and daffodil bulbs, and hundreds of dollars worth of seed packets. We won’t even speculate the total cost of all the annuals purchased year after year.

None of them hold a candle to those proffered plants that came from a friend, or loved one, that will bloom and prosper on another day in the country — long after the gift giver is gone!

Last modified July 8, 2020

 

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