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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good afternoon, my name is Diana Fisher, and I’m a Floraholic

Floraholic. I think that is what you would call a person with my type of addiction. You see, when it comes to buying and planting flowers, I just don’t know when to quit.
Imagine my glee when the Farmer proposed. Not only was I getting a wonderful husband, but he came with 200 acres of potential flower gardens.
Now, the Farmer has always had a flower bed – one big raised perennial bed up against the front porch of the farmhouse. It’s lovely, with its hostas, flowering shrubs and lilies. It even features a little pond, much to the delight of the birds – and the barn cats.
But the dominant plant in this bed is something like a four-foot-tall dandelion. It’s invasive and rude: if you give it an inch, it’ll take the front yard. I have no idea what its proper name is, but most horticulturalists I know simply refer to it as the “outhouse flower”.
I became Mrs. Farmer Fisher at the end of August last year. As soon as the wedding was over, I dug a half-dozen holes in that perennial bed and plopped our wedding chrysanthemums into them. We moved our wedding arbor to the front flower bed and bought a climbing rose to wind over its length.
At the end of the growing season I lovingly put the perennials to bed with layers of straw that I stole from the sheep feeder. With visions of a colourful springtime to come, I went to Home Depot before the frost and bought packages of bulbs: lilies, alliums, tulips and iris. And daffodils. I bought three packages of thirty daffodils to scatter all over the bed and out into the lawn.
For nearly two hours I planted those bulbs. When spring came, I was disheartened to discover that my double-bearded red tulips, white iris and lilies were all miniatures. They were pretty, but less than six inches tall. I could barely see them amidst the mounds of wild violets in the perennial bed. Next fall I will read the packages more carefully.
And what of my 90 beautiful, naturalized daffodils, popping up all over the lawn, heralding the arrival of spring? Nada. Zip. Nothing. I have no idea what happened to them. Not a single daffodil came up.
I know it is customary to wait until the long weekend in May to plant annuals and vegetables in Eastern Ontario, but I couldn’t make it past Mother’s Day. I had received two black pedestal urns for the front porch and I could not wait to fill them. I went to Jonsson’s Independent and bought baskets of red, purple and white blooms.
A week later, a good friend gifted me with a couple of classic wooden 7-UP crates. They had “geranium planters” written all over them, so off to the nursery I went. Two hours and about $50 later, I had two each of peach and white geraniums, and a bunch of trailing purple verbena. Like I said – I have a problem.
As the month of May continued, I conceded that I had probably spent enough on the single-season annuals. Then I discovered that seed packages were available at convincingly low prices in nearly every grocery, hardware and dollar store that I entered. I bought seeds for cosmos, evening primrose, asters and giant red sunflowers. Visions of wildflower gardens filled my head and I planted them in every spare spot I could find amongst our perennials. When I ran out of garden room, I filled spare containers and placed them up the steps to the porch. I planted flower seeds along the end of the vegetable garden and dug a new bed in front of the shed.
Now, some of these seeds have matured into fluffy green plants, but only the cosmos have bloomed so far. I am optimistic that most of my plants will flower, but I have given up on the seeds that I bought from the sale bin because they were last year’s stock. When they failed to send anything green through the earth, I gave up and filled their allotted space with gladiolus bulbs.
I have come through my first growing season as a Farmwife with a much lighter wallet. Next year, I will follow the Farmer’s advice and plant only the occasional perennial to replace the ones that die out.
I will beg my gardening friends to share with me when they divide their perennials in the fall, and I will attend the plant sales put on by local horticultural groups. I will transplant wild lilies from the back meadow and try to ensure that I have something in bloom every month so that I don’t go into flower withdrawal.
I know – I still have a problem. But I’m working on it.

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