Annuals Die.

Written By: sherridaley - • •

Fall is not a happy time for any gardener, but it’s especially bad for me. I relate to plants and bushes like I do people, which puts me slightly left of center but not scary. My friend Ingrid ripped out some some begonias to give room for her impatiens and left the begonias lying on the ground with their naked little roots exposed – to die there, drying out in the sun, an ignoble death. I snatched them up and held them to my chest.  “Ingrid, how could you?” I planted them in my yard and they are thriving.

Which leads me to the awful truth about autumn.  Annuals die.

This is hard for me, which is why I don’t plant many annuals, but we need them for color. Actually, what we need them for is instant gratification because we humans are selfish little shits who cannot wait for a simple cone flower to bloom. Nor can we read the packages of those seeds ($1.29 for hundreds of flowers rather than $7.95 for one) to see when they bloom and carefully plan so that a variety of perennials color our gardens from May to October.  For that matter, we don’t even read the little plastic thing that’s stuck in the dirt when we buy a plant for $7.95.  Nuh-uh. We can’t walk past a $15 geranium in July or a lily in June. They cry out, “Take me home! I will look beautiful next to your porch!”  We hear them; we feel their hunger.

Or maybe it’s just me. In fact, it’s probably just me. Although I see my share of people at Home Depot fingering the blossoms of marigolds and looking over their shoulders guiltily. Annuals are a sure sign that you are an impatient, uneducated, selfish gardener. Had you had any brains, you would have planted perennials that would be poking their gentle heads up out of their dirt and opening into white and yellow blooms in May.

Which is why this time of year is hard for me. I must rescue my annuals and take them in pots to my classroom where I teach.  There they line up like grateful refugees on the windowsill. 30 or 40 of them. Desperate for attention and Miracle Grow.

But that can only happen after I have dug them all up out of the garden and put them in pots and schlepped them one by one in canvas grocery bags to school. This takes weeks. Geraniums. Gerbera daisies. Ferns. Tropical flowering trees. Purple shamrocks. Fucking green shamrocks. Jesus.  It’s a mess.  It’s a chore.

But I have to let the marigolds die. There are far too many of them.  And they have been the best annuals I have ever had: bright and hardy and full of color all summer. I sit on the back steps with a glass of wine and stare at them.  “I’m sorry,” I whisper.  “You’ve been great.”

I can’t even tell my psychiatrist about this little emotional, seasonal blip.  This is between you & me.  I have to let the marigolds die, and I feel like shit about it.





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