Wednesday, May 18, 2022

C. Stroup: I’ve Been Deflowered!

Sad Flower
Sad Flower

This happens to me all the time!  There is no good time.  But one of the worse times was when we hosted a reunion of folks we’ve known for years.  I’d spent literally days planting zinnias and monkey grass in a splendid array next to our driveway.  Everyone commented on the display and I modestly beamed from ear to ear. The next morning people went out to the drive to get in their cars for a trip to the arboretum.  I did a double take on my show of flowers and almost had a heart attack.

Armadillos from the night before (they’re nocturnal) had tunneled under the entire area, bulldozing through the fruits of my labor.  Many of the monkey grass plugs were simply gone!  I later learned that supposedly spreading mothballs around the house will discourage armadillos.  Can’t say that I blame them since this action also wards off people.  It’s awful.

Some years later I carefully transplanted an enormous amount of larkspur plants that were coming up in the yard.  I wanted them in one of my beds. They took well to their new environment and I was anxious to see them bloom.  A lady I use from time to time to weed the beds brought her hubby along one trip.  She pointed her spouse to the large area where the larkspur were flourishing, neglecting to identify the larks as flowers not weeds.  He did a helluva job cleaning out the bed.  Need I say more?  She’s such a nice lady I just couldn’t bring myself to scold her or her husband.

There is another guy who trims hedges, trees and shrubs that I rely on a few times a year.  And he does a terrific job.  However, it only took one visit one spring to wreak havoc on my prolific trumpet vines.  This was my bad because I hadn’t instructed him to only trim the back side of the vines.  If you prune them back too far it prevents the decorative orange flowers from coming out.  This is one of my favorite plants because it is intoxicating to hummingbirds and I can observe them from my kitchen window.

Last year, once the blooming was over, I pulled up all the dried shriveled, sad looking zinnias.  Then I cut the withered flowers off and threw them back in to the bed.  As summer neared, same as always, they seeded themselves and filled the dirt patch with a plethora of gorgeous new variegated plants.  You’d have to be blind to not recognize them as flowers.  The same guy that butchered the trumpet vines came to do some yard work.  I pointed out the zinnias and asked that he only pull the weeds that were coming up to choke my posies. Evidently, his henchmen did not get the memo, and yes, you know what happened!

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the inane attack on my bluebonnets.  Every year I can count on the glorious stand of the state flower which hugs my back porch.  The delightful exhibit has no problem blooming in the decorative rocks around the patio.  And many seeds get blown into the nearby yard area.  We’ve had the same mower guys for years and they have great respect for my bonnets.  This year the usual dude, in charge of mowing, left a small path yet a safe distance from the wild flowers. I was so pleased he had remembered from the past years.  Again, the flowers had gone to seed and the next thing I knew, the bonnets were gone!  The man in charge of weed eating had scalped the plants down to ground level!  OMG, I was horrified and helpless.

This sounds like a woman who should not even try to grow a flowering anything.  That’s what I think.  Unfortunately, I inherited this trait from my grandmother and her gardens were awesome and lured the most beautiful butterflies.  Do we even have butterflies in Texas?

I can’t place all the failing flowers on all the worker bees…I share in their guilt.  My hubby, on occasion, like Easter, Valentine’s Day, my birthday (knowing how much I enjoy flowers) brings home a “plant.”  This would be like tulips which immediately die when I put them outside.  He knows better than to buy a cactus of any variety because I’m notorious for overwatering them.

So as far as inside floral décor I mostly stick to plastic and silks.  They are very hardy and live a long maintenance free life.  Only drawback here is that the cats regard them as salad.  If they are not fed on time they will chew on them and then regurgitate their meal.  But that’s a whole other story.

My advice to any budding gardeners out there, if you hire someone to help you with this hobby, make certain they know the difference between a weed and a wildflower.  Also have mothballs on hand, and mole bait.  Moles love to burrow in soft dirt and can destroy a flower bed in no time flat!

And now you know the true definition of being deflowered!

C. Stroup
Cindy Stroup is a Double Oak resident and has been contributing to The Cross Timbers Gazette for over 30 years. Read her column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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