“I’ve discovered the key to happiness!”
Hands dirty from gardening, with a camera slung over one shoulder, I had dashed into the house to share my discovery with my hubby. Guy, seated at the kitchen table, looked up at me expectantly.
“What’s the key to happiness, babe?”
“Having a project, and taking photos every day!”
“Especially photos of butterflies?”
This summer had been a banner year for raising monarch butterflies. In all, thirty-five butterflies had been released.
I was thrilled to see so many flitting among the zinnias. Countless photos had captured their beauty.
But what excited me at the moment was being in the midst of a project. I had a problem and the solution turned into my latest project!
As we planned to go camping soon, my problem was that the myriad of potted plants on the patio could perish from neglect. I’m never one to give up on a plant. I couldn’t cause any to die! My solution was to design fall planters using the plants, and give them away.
I started by making planters for my two daughters, Monique and Giselle. A unique plant called cat tails was included, plus a striking celosia—
—and kale. I hadn’t been able to find ornamental kale at garden centres this spring. I lucked out by buying seeds online and growing my own.
Giselle’s planter had snapdragons added as she loved to make the floral dragon’s mouth snap open and closed.
Portulacas were included in Monique’s planter. She treasured them and was knowledgeable on how to keep them blooming.
Next, I started to prepare planters for three sisters that I would see on Mom’s upcoming birthday. Each planter had a celosia . . . or two or three! What could I do to personalize their planters?
I recalled my oldest sister mentioning she couldn’t find milkweed anywhere, despite living in the countryside. Done! Milkweed was added to her planter. When you love monarch butterflies, you always make sure you have a surplus of milkweed.
Another sister was a big fan of zinnias. Her front yard resembled an old-fashioned English garden with its display of zinnias. Four zinnias, not yet in bloom, went into her fall arrangement. One can never have too many zinnias!
Two of us sisters had started castor bean plants indoors in the early spring. At the time, we couldn’t determine from our seeds (saved from past years’ plants) whether our plants would develop green or the coveted red leaves. It became a contest to see whose plants would grow taller. While I had a few that were reasonably tall at around 7 feet, the majority measured only 3 feet tall, haha! My sister easily won the contest. I planted several short castor bean plants into her planter. Bonus! They were red! Her preference as all her plants ended up being green.
Now . . . what to put in Mom’s planter to make it extra special? What to give my soon-to-be 94-year-old Mom? She resided in a retirement home now and had a small patio all to herself. Perfect for a planter.
I came up with an answer: plants Dad used to grow each year, plus some favourites from her garden in the past!
Dad’s sunflowers had been outstanding each year! Here’s a pic from when he was 90.
I chose a dwarf sunflower, still in bud for Mom’s planter. I wanted it to bloom after she received it.
Dad’s castor beans had towered each year, too. I definitely needed to include one of those. I was glad mine were small enough for a planter. I remember Dad giving me a seedling one spring. My plant hardly grew—
—unlike Dad’s plant from the same seeds!
Next came cosmos and four o’clock plants. Since they self-seeded each year, there had been an abundance of them in Mom and Dad’s garden.
Mom’s planter was truly tailor-made for her. She wouldn’t be able to find a planter chock full of her favourite plants anywhere. Mom could enjoy the heavenly scent of four o’clocks once again!
But, there was no stopping me now. I made up a similar planter to Mom’s for my brother. The two of us had helped with watering our parents’ garden for the last couple of years that they lived at home.
Once the planters were completed, I began to have my doubts. There were gorgeous fall planters at the local grocery stores.
Selling for reasonable prices, too. I knew my siblings could afford much more extravagant planters than the ones I made. I hesitated for a couple of days while I ensured the new transplants took root in the planters.
Then I decided if the first planter was well-received, I’d have confidence to go through with giving away the rest of the planters. Each plant had been grown from seeds, nurtured along the way. They were special to me . . but would they be special to the recipients?
While my brother was at work, I dropped off the first planter on his front porch, with a card attached to it. Inside the card, it was written that the castor beans and sunflowers were in remembrance of Dad. And the four o’clocks and cosmos were to remind him of Mom.
A couple of hours later, I received this text:
I smiled broadly. The joy for me was in the creation of the fall planters—my project. I thought of how my youngest daughter asked for money in lieu of Christmas gifts in the past. She requested the cash in advance in order to spend the money on Christmas gifts for family. I truly could see how the joy IS in the giving for me, as well.
A week later, I received another text from my brother:
My plants are happy. I’m happy. All is right with my world.