You know we Southern women love to brag about our gardens. It is almost as exciting as bragging about our secret recipe for the pound cake everyone raves about at supper club. When I was growing up, at right about this time of the year my mama’s perennial garden was in full bloom. Today it is again, and we take great delight in swapping stories about what “came back” from the prior year.
I plant new things each year to add to the mix of favorites. The joke at our house is, “Oh no, she has bought more bulbs.” Yes, that’s right. I am totally consumed with catalogues and websites that offer collections of bulbs and plants. Not only that, but I can actually visualize exactly where they need to be planted to create the wonderful picturesque garden that will bloom every year.
Several years ago, right after Neal and I married, Aaron announced that he wanted to have prom dinner at our home complete with a prom photo session around the fountain. Neal was thrilled that his son wanted to host the dinner for 12 couples at the ranch, and I set in with the master plan of creating the garden “look” for the photograph background. I figured out the time it would take for a tulip bulb to bloom from planting to blossom.
On the appointed day, I was out there in the cold with my flats of pansies and bags and bags of tulip bulbs. I had the plan, and I was in motion. Coupled with the knock out roses and lambs ears, these new additions would result in a garden that would be life changing. Did I mention that all the parents were to come with their children for the photo session? So I was making plans for a garden moment that would be viewed by more than 75 people at sunset on that magical night, a crowning accomplishment.
As the weeks progressed and the little shoots started emerging, I was right on schedule. My timing was perfect. The week of prom had finally arrived. The menu was exactly what Aaron wanted, and all that was left was to spiff up the garden. The tulips could not have been more beautiful poking their heads through the mounds of pansies.
Three days before prom, I woke up and was making my usual early morning stroll through the masterpiece garden with my cup of coffee. I opened the door to find everything in my garden was gone. Gone. Not a bloom in sight. I think my face went numb, and I couldn’t utter a word. What could have happened during the night? I stood there totally stunned and in shock.
I managed to pull myself together and leave for the office. On the way out, I noticed Neal had stopped to speak to one of our neighbors. I drove on with my mind whirling as to Plan B. You know we Southern women always have a Plan B, and I needed one very quickly.
That evening when I arrived back at the ranch, Neal told me the story of how our neighbor had neglected to close the gates on her horse pens and during the night the tulip- and pansy-eating monsters had visited my garden and helped themselves to “flower salad.” She had retrieved the horses before I got up. I was not amused. But it was time for Plan B.
The day before the prom I went to the nursery and bought flats of blooming flowers. I came home, planted them, and mulched so as to appear that they had been planted all season. I think I probably sat up all night looking out the window.
The next morning, all was well for prom photos and dinner. I, of course, took the compliments from parents and children as they photographed the couples with a stunning background or blooming flowers, wishing the whole time they could have seen the tulip–pansy extravaganza. Perhaps that is just like the “fish that got away” stories!
Every fall I plant bulbs and plants with great hopes that a beautiful garden will be blooming in the spring. My lilies are new to the garden this year. And yes, I am already looking for new things to add this fall.
I would love to hear your suggestions. Please leave a comment below!