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When All Else Fails, Plant a Zinnia

We’ve turned the corner; summer is half-over and this year’s garden knows it. The hopes and plans that were born last winter and spring have come and gone. Oh, there’s vegetables to pick and a few showy flowers that love the August heat, but most of the shine has rubbed off, so to speak.

Whatever will be, will be.

And yet, there is a flower that stands out this time of year: the no-fuss, happy-go-lucky zinnia. Easy to start from seed, drought-tolerant and chocked with splendid splashes of color, these members of the sunflower family brighten a garden plot where many, more delicate flowers may fail.

I was fortunate this year and a friend gave me a couple different zinnia packs for my birthday. I planted the seeds in our front garden, that has fertile, well-drained soil and gets full sun, and now I have a whole bed of bright beauties in all colors, shapes and sizes. When I pulled into my driveway last week, after having been gone for a month, in which these flowers got no attention whatsoever – imagine how delighted I was to see this crazy, colorful eclectic plot with butterflies, bees and yellow finches hovering about their big bright heads!

As I plopped down on my bench each afternoon, exhausted from a day of yardwork, these friend-flowers cheered my heart. Because sometimes I feel like the August garden, that life’s half-over, that I’m tired of trying.

But then I will get a call from a friend. Or a text. Or a note. Or, better yet, a visit and some how I can put aside the list of people and things that need doing and just ‘be’ for a moment. That is the beauty of a no-fuss friendship, like the zinnia it stands on sturdy legs. And, better yet, it reseeds itself. This annual flower actually loves to store up life in its seeds – after blooming right up until the first frost – then with just a little crush of the hand, you will have a new crop next season.

You can let the dry seeds fall where they may, but better yet, you can also store some, set them aside in a labeled envelope and share with others at a Seed Swap next February. Zinnias and good friends, the gift that keeps giving.


“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

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