Tending treasures, memories from the garden | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Aug 07, 2014

August rolls past, with days of such warmth my two tomato plants gasp for water every afternoon, their leaves suddenly limp and wilted.

I glance out the door, see their distress, and hurriedly dump half a gallon of water into each large pot, reviving them for 24 hours.

A few of my flowers have given up; apparently they decided that summer is over. Regretfully, I’ve pulled them up.

Geraniums, portulaca, petunias and dahlias meet each day with enthusiasm, whether or not they’ve recently been treated to a dose of Rapid-Gro.

Grasses and coleus flourish, despite way too much interference by an energetic and determined squirrel I can’t bring myself to discourage.

The squirrel leaps from the swaying branches of the cedar tree and visits nearly every pot on the deck.

He is on a quest and won’t be satisfied until he’s disturbed nearly every plant.

He disappears within the foliage of the dahlias, with only the tip of his tail poking out.

He circles the tomato plants, stopping to dig here and there, in case there’s a peanut he’s misplaced or overlooked. He jumps to the back of the old blue bench and peers through the window at me.

We stare at one another. He’s a perfectly beautiful nuisance.

Finally, he leaps into the midst of a basket stuffed with red geraniums, turning to see whether I’m keeping an eye on him. Of course I am.

The squirrel executes a perfect jump from the deck rail back to the cedar tree and disappears.

After his visits, I sometimes count to ten and by then find the blue jay arriving to search for the same peanut in all the same places.

I swear the two of them spend a lot of time making plans to annoy one another. Once in a while, the blue jay brings a cigarette butt to bury in a place he knows the squirrel will look next time.

The bird has quite a sense of humor—besides a raucous voice. These wild creatures bring me joy.

My favorite garden space this year is the Hazel Miller Plaza at Old Milltown in downtown Edmonds.

When local resident and Floretum Garden Club member Rachel Setchfield devoted herself to tending flowers in the original courtyard of Old Milltown, she had no idea how elegant the area would be 50 years later.

The water feature, the abundant grasses and blossoms and the pleasures of outdoor dining attract local residents and visitors.

I miss my elderly neighbor Norma Jean’s amazing collections of blooming annuals.

Every summer, huge hanging baskets decorated the space outside her condo, with pots blooming on either side of her front door.

Walking past her unit each day, I often found her tending her flowers.

Norma Jean is gone now, but I still think of her, just as I think of Rachel.

I’ll always appreciate people who enjoy digging in the dirt, nurturing growing things, and sharing the bright results of their labors.



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