I wasn’t able to grow Zinnias this year. Most of my pumpkins failed, too. So did the package of wildflowers I hoped would spring into a gorgeous patch of blue, purple and green foliage. Everything died in the garden space my husband created for me. 

Well, almost everything. My 6 year old did find a small, dead pumpkin attempting to grow on a wilted vine. She placed it on our window sill for fall decoration. 

What made everything croak? Was it the dirt? Too much rain? Lack of skills from the gardener?

I think it’s a combination of all three.

I’m jealous of your garden. I’m not supposed to be, I know. It’s dangerous to be envious of other things. But I can’t help but notice the beautiful bounty of pumpkins you’re starting to pick and the overflow of tomatoes you’re giving away. 

I want that. Maybe you do, too? 

Mom and Dad always had a huge space where cucumbers and Zinnias, sweet corn and eggplant would reside. Her flowers burst with color until the first frost snapped  and even then I’m pretty sure they hung on until December. 

Growing up – I picked flowers all season and placed them in vases throughout the house. Mom made grilled side dishes with all those veggies and we carved pumpkins picked from our own patch. There was sweet corn to freeze and tomatoes to can. 

This season my corn came from a bag in the freezer section of my favorite grocery store. A friend gave me cucumbers from her garden but I found those last week, lost and forgotten in the back of my refrigerator. I’m not great with this homemaking stuff. 

Fortunately, I think there’s hope. I have a stash of old letters from my parents’ past. Many of them were written by my dad while he was in Vietnam. But my mom wrote a few, too when she was traveling with him. I read one recently with these words. 

“Dear Mom and Dad,” she began. “I fixed my first turkey last week. It was just a small one and I got it a little overdone. I froze what was left over for sandwiches.”

My mom burned a turkey. The woman I watched sew and cook and garden better than any – has burned a turkey. Maybe burned is extreme, but “got a little overdone” gives me hope that I can do this stuff, too. That overtime I’ll improve; that someday my girls can get excited about picking flowers and fresh produce out of their own garden – not just a small, dead pumpkin. 

I don’t attempt this gardening business to compete with the neighbors and I have no intention of ever canning, either. I do it for my girls. Flowers or not – I want them to know what it’s like to watch a seed grow and blossom into something remarkable. I want so badly to give them a piece of the country even though we live in suburbia. And, I suppose, I want them to have lots of memories with their dear old mom. 

Until then, fortunately, we have our next door neighbors. Their Zinnias grew this year. I know this because my girls pointed it out – several times. 

“Look at their flowers, mom! Look how pretty they are!”

Those neighbors have already given us bouquets of flowers. We didn’t have to ask them for it – they just knew. I suppose the dead plants in our garden gave it away. 

Maybe it doesn’t matter where the flowers grow as long as you attempt to grow them? That’s what I hope my girls remember. It’s also what I’ll tell myself until next spring when I give it a try all over again.

Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From Home.com. She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.