• John R

The Beauty Thief

I envisioned a garden full of flowers, a garden overwhelmed with billowing blossoms and rippling waves of color. I imagined bringing cut flowers inside and festooning our interiors with fiery bursts of orange dahlias and scrumptious purplish mounds of irises and soothing white clouds of whatever we could get to grow that would be white. I could almost smell the heady perfume of Asiatic lilies wafting through the house.

None of that happened.


Unfortunately, our (my) imagination(s) were a bit premature in terms of gardening bliss, much less actual fiery bursts of anything. Flower-wise, we’re somewhere in the unfired zone. Hopeful, yes. Successful, not so much.

Which is why we have this vase full of beautiful flowers. Our friends gave us these and I’m glad they did because their garden is an actual fiery scrumptious bursting cloud of flowers of all kinds and in my envy I have seriously considered raiding their place when they’re not at home and cutting a few bushelfuls of blossoms and importing said blossoms to our house. Their timely gift put my larcenous impulses on hold. For now.

Our friends give us beautiful cut flowers every year, and they give them because they are wonderful and generous and kind people and also because they pity us quite a bit for our forlorn attempts at cultivating flowers. Soon, they will generously and kindly give us cucumbers to help us forget the shriveled strings that are our cucumber vines, and tomatillos for…well, you get the dynamic here.

I think the difference between our garden and theirs is the quality of the soil. Something about the fact our soil is compacted, unbalanced, undernourished and impenetrable to worms while their soils are crumbly and sweet and vital, the result of years of compost teas and copious mulches. The lesson here is: bad soils are not good.

By the way, all is not lost in our garden, beauty-wise. Do check out the photo of a fetching white rose growing in the filigreed metalwork of our ornamental garden chair. Ha! Surprise! It’s not our rose! It’s our neighbor’s rose that’s vined its way under the backyard fence and proceeded to trellis itself into the chair. We don’t have to take care of it or anything—we just get to admire it. Thanks, neighbor! Maybe you should buy some more of that 2-5-2 fertilizer and give our rose a little kick in the bud.


FYI the garden chair was here when we bought the place. It's cute. It folds up. But under no circumstance think this chair is sittable. Believe me, you’d rather fill your underwear with gravel and take a three-month-long, 1850s stagecoach ride from St. Louis to San Francisco on heavily rutted roads than spend more than two minutes sitting on this chair. But it’s a nice backdrop for a stolen rose.


And the lesson here is: it's certainly good to have good friends and green-thumbed neighbors!

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