Hearty Flowers

Are you “keeping up with the Joneses?” I haven’t heard that expression for a long time, but it occurred to me recently that is exactly what I had been doing, without realizing it.
When I became a single, divorced, home-owner in 1991, I was suddenly saddled with not only the upkeep of the house, but also of the yard. I am not a gardener, by any stretch of the imagination, but for some mysterious reason, I thought I needed to make a great effort to maintain the appearance of the back yard as well as the front. I bought hanging Impatience plants for the patio and dutifully watered them every day, that is until I put my hand up there one day and discovered a baby bird in the middle of the plant. I bought pots to grow tomatoes in and valiantly tried to reward myself with big luscious tomatoes, that is, until I finally admitted that I didn’t really like tomatoes. I paid someone to dig up the front flowerbed and fill it with new soil, and my friend Eve took me to the garden store and helped me pick out flowers that I might enjoy. Then she helped me plant them and make a chart of which flower was planted where. But then it was up to me to water them, weed them, pinch them back, and replace them when they died anyway. I bought window boxes and tried a variety of flowers that wouldn’t require a lot of attention, but they all required watering. I bought whiskey barrels for the end of the driveway, and filled them each year with a different variety of flowers, but when the barrels themselves needed replacing, Twice, in addition to the flowers, I called a halt to this whole charades.
“Admit it,” I said to myself. “You hate gardening. Why are you doing this? Is it for your neighbors to enjoy?” Well, yes, that’s exactly why. I wanted to have a yard that looked well-groomed and cared for. I didn’t want it to stick out, like, that’s where the blind lady lives. That’s why it looks so bad. She can’t see how terrible it looks.
Meanwhile, I had been paying someone to mow my grass, paint the trim, clean the gutters, replace the roofing, and on and on. Oh, the joys of home ownership. When I got sick of weeds growing up through the cracks in the driveway, I spent my savings and invested in a new driveway, patio, and a front patio that would cover up the old flower bed. Yes, I paved over the petunias, and I’m very glad I did. The window boxes remain, but today, they are filled with beautiful flowers that are finally starting to fade, after two summers. I bought them at Joanne’s, and I call them hearty flowers. You can’t tell they’re not real, that is, until you notice that they are a little too beautiful and a little too perfect. But they bring color to the front patio, and they make my friends smile as they comment on my beautiful hearty flowers. The only attention they require is to replace them with hearty fall flowers, and then hearty Christmas flowers. I buy replacements at the end of the season in order to catch the sales. I do have to buy potting soil though, so they have something to anchor them. I just hope my neighbors don’t see me adding soil to the window boxes. Then they will surely think I’ve gone off the deep end.

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