I planted zinnia seeds this week and I thought about my grandmother. She and I planted zinnias together every summer when I was a girl in Indiana. It was a tradition we both looked forward to and enjoyed. We planted them from seed, usually in the warm mornings of early June. They were a hardy flower and could withstand the hotter, dryer months of the Midwestern summers.
My grandmother liked them because they made a nice cut flower that would last a long time in a Mason Jar vase on the kitchen table. I liked them because they came in so many colors and they had individual petals like daisies. I didn’t like to ever waste a flower, but if one should inadvertently break off its stem, I would think of a boy I liked, and pull off the flower petals one by one as I played the old “he loves me, he loves me not” game.
Because zinnias would bloom into the fall, my grandmother and I would often plant them in her large vegetable garden. She loved to mix a row of flowers like zinnias or sunflowers in with the many rows of vegetables. She said it gave us something beautiful to look at while we worked in the garden. It also gave her a ready supply of cut flowers to adorn her country kitchen.
The other regular “zinnia spot” was in a huge bed out by the street, across the front of her yard. My grandmother’s house sat halfway down a rural road, and she thought our zinnia garden would give all her neighbors something pleasant to see as they drove by.
I remembered how she taught me to make long furrows in the dark, rich dirt and we would drop seeds together every few inches until we had reached the end. Then, with her strong hands guiding my smaller ones, we would gently cover the seeds with the warm, moist soil until our task was complete. After that, the waiting and watching would begin. It wouldn’t take long before the strong, green shoots would push their way up through the dark, rich earth toward the sun. We would celebrate each new growth, and eagerly await the first blossom.
When the zinnia bed had reached its full potential, we would stand back and admire the rainbow of colors sitting atop their bed of green leaves. Sometimes her neighbors would stop by and admire our beautiful garden with us. At those times, she would always tell them how hard I had worked on it with her. I remember how happy and proud I felt as a girl to be a part of our garden project that brought so much beauty and pleasure to us and to others. I didn’t realize until later in life that we were planting more than flower seeds on those sunny summer mornings.
It is my hope that you have something simple and beautiful in your past that brings back those kinds of powerful memories. Plant something good today!