I call my yard “Gay Gardens” because it makes me smile. I have put a lot of energy and resources into it, but very little money. Everything growing right now was either a gift or my small investment in one or two seed packets.
My mom began it for me as a container garden when I first moved into The Lavender Queen, my RV. She lives 2 blocks away with a thriving garden (she calls it “Marianne Land”) and blessed me with a bunch of starter plants, and my step parent Pat built a lattice structure so the sweet peas had something to climb.
I’ve learned a lot about failing forward and just trying stuff out from tending to Gay Gardens for the past four Pandemic summers! (WILD to think we are wrapping up Fourth Pandemic Summer.)
I had a couple of sunflowers grow and bloom last year but didn’t do the work of figuring out how to gather the seeds. So this summer I put the call out to my neighbors to see if anyone had extra sunflower seeds to offer. I’m glad I asked for help!
First of all, I received a half packet from my neighbor’s dog, Douglas! It was a mix of seeds that included these gorgeous black/orange/red varieties that are so pretty.
Second, I received a bunch of plants in containers from my Botanist friend Becky! Most of them are medicinal or pretty and I am excited especially about the marshmallow plant, the root of which is in many herbal tummy recipes. As an IBS Cutie I love the ability to go into the garden, dig up my container of Marshmallow to get some root, grab some spearmint and peppermint and make a fresh herbal tisane by pouring boiling water over the herbs for 10 mins. Delish! Tummy soothing!
Third, I received a bunch of hand me down containers from a friend who is downsizing, and my mom gave me a few new big containers and extra soil! Expanding Gay Gardens was possible simply with some sweat equity from me! All of this was thrilling!
In late May I was buzzing along, getting excited for my foxgloves to bloom and I started noticing some volunteers in my pots.
Volunteer plants are not uncommon in my container garden, last year I snacked on the fruit of a volunteer tomato plant. Most of them end up being “weeds” (a word that simply describes a plant you don’t want there, one person’s “weed” is perhaps another person’s volunteer tomato) aka invasive plants that spread a bunch of seeds making more “weeds” I don’t want.
I let them go because I didn’t want to get rid of them until I was sure what they were and I couldn’t yet tell based on the cotyledon (the first pair of leaves plants grow from seed) but in the fifth container i found them in I noticed they were being born from… SUNFLOWER SEEDS.
I learned the word cotyledon from texting Becky pictures and I began taking advantage of this opportunity.
“Luck” is where preparedness and opportunity meet. I had the preparedness of having asked for help and received generosity from people who love me. (Thanks especially to my soil sponsor mother!) Receiving is an important energetic part of asking for help!
I had the opportunity of the chipmunk or squirrel who gathered seeds either from last year’s sunflowers or a neighbor’s bird feeder and buried them in my containers. THE CUTEST SANTA CLAUS MOMENT.
If I had left the volunteers in their containers they would not have achieved full sunflower greatness. I replanted more than 3 dozen of them in whatever containers I could, even trash picking a pink plastic bucket and hammering holes into it to drain.
I left some of the later season volunteers in their corners of wherever they grew and none of them hit maturity but a lot of them bloomed little bebé yellow flowers.
Now that the Sunflowers of Gay Gardens are well underway blooming, I have been describing myself as feeling “unreasonable joy” as a result.
I don’t actually think joy needs to be reasonable. But I know the capitalist drudge that was colonized inside me is still dying.
I don’t think I need to tamper down my jolly experience in my yard. When I dance with my Zoom aerobics Regulars and I feel the breeze on my skin and see my sunflower friends waving around, my pollinator friends working hard for the collective good, I do not need to limit my enthusiasm.
Flowers exist to bring us joy. Their vibration is the closest we get to angelic presence on Earth. Sunflowers are the very archetype of a warm summer day, the sun hitting a prism and amplifying beauty everywhere.
The hardest part of unrestrained joy is that I know, like everything, this too shall pass. Once it does pass, I will have figured out how to successfully gather and dry my abundance of sunflower seeds so that I can, perhaps, experience this joy again, as a new version of myself next year. And share with my pals along with my epic foxglove seeds ETCETERA.
I even already dove into generosity and gave the rest of Douglas’ seeds to my visiting friend who admired Simone in my yard. I trust that I will be able to successfully gather Simone’s seeds!
Long live the Sunflower miracle of Gay Gardens!
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