There was a time when I was a very uncertain wanna-be-a-gardener, convinced that I could not successfully grow anything. This came partly from the fact that a beloved grandmother gave me a potted hyacinth in bloom and no one told me that it would go dormant. So I thought it died. It was mine and it died, therefore it was my fault, obviously.
As the years went by, the ‘wanna-be’ part of me overcame the defeatist part of me, and then after I learned to grow fairly simple plants such as zinnias and marigolds, I became so confident, so very over-confident, and over time I launched into acquiring so many exotic, and sometimes difficult to grow, plants and bulbs. And sometimes I would have a modest success, which unfortunately encouraged me even more.
Ah, but now I have finally, after decades, realized a basic truth for myself: the exotic plants and the tropical plants and the finicky plants are never really happy and all want more of me than I now wish to give. Lacking a greenhouse or a garden helper except for my long-suffering husband, and both of us now well and truly exhausted from years of sheltering delicate plants from the wild weather swings here in our so-called temperate zone, I am, I think, finally becoming a wiser gardener. Because I have finally realized how wonderfully rewarding the ordinary, easily available, faithfully tough plants are that thrive around here: violas in the fall and winter and very early spring, marigolds and zinnias and daylilies and phlox for the summer, along with hardy bulbs such as jonquils and bearded iris, the miniature gladiolas and the fall amaryllis (rhodophiala) and spider lilies and chrysanthemums – all of these are quite enough, give wonderful color, sometimes for months, requiring only reasonable amounts of food and water.