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Down to the Dirt At Last

All keyboard and no dirt makes Jill a very dull girl indeed!

I've burrowed into my gardening bag and liberated the seeds I harvested last summer on my morning dog walks. Little twists and packets of newsprint enclosing wilted blossoms and loose seeds: "8 ft hollyhock" is the scrawled ballpoint label on one packet; "rasp. small carnations"; and "mixed bachelor buttons."

Straw spears, woodland confetti, flattened blossoms -- all enfolding the magic of botany and blossoms.

Of the three of us, I think I'm the one who most craves flowers.  Flowers were what we grew in the gardens of my childhood: hollyhocks, my father's favorites; zinnias, marigolds and nasturtiums, the ever reliables; and bachelor buttons, which are bouquets within a single blossom.

Most of our first year efforts at flowers were a bust. Ancient gerbera seeds -- a luncheon favor that Karen had saved for years -- retired in the soil. The marigolds we planted to keep bugs off the tomatoes bloomed but without enthusiasm. The nasturtiums didn't handle drought-flood cycles well. Eventually, I got some zinnias to flower, but I spared the seeds in my pessimism so we didn't get the mass of eye-bursting color I'd imagined.

There are signs that this year may be different.  The astromaria in the center of the garden is showing its appreciation of all the soil amending we've been doing.  Some nasturtiums -- volunteers, maybe? -- are blooming cheerfully at one end of the plot.

I have high hopes for my harvested seeds.  I'm hoping I can persuade Kate to till new ground to shade Karen's den wall with soaring hollyhocks and knee high bachelor buttons. Marigolds will be a must for the tomato plants and this year I'll plant zinnia seeds with abandon.

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