Weather, rain, geraniums: A gardener gives thanks

Take a minute and reflect on what you are grateful for in your garden, and then share the gratitude with your fellow gardeners.

I have to confess that I seldom take time to reflect. I am a “doer” by nature and no sooner do I finish a project, that I am then on to the next challenge — maybe it’s just my creative juices wanting to express themselves, or my type A personality. Whatever is behind my constant need to “do” something, sometimes it is a good idea to slow down, take a breath and reflect on what has taken place and be thankful for everything, whether a success or failure.

As the gardening season winds down and we are collectively celebrating Thanksgiving, here are a few thoughts that crossed my mind.

Weather: It is something we take for granted and obviously have little control over. As for this year, despite a slow, cold and wet start to the season, summer turned out to be OK. What we lost in the spring, we made up for in the fall and in the end, I think we probably got the same amount of warm, sunny days as we usually receive. In fact, based on the few clumps of ‘Morning Light’ and ‘Gold Bar’ Miscanthus that bloomed for the first time, we might have actually been blessed with more sun and heat than normal. We should be thankful that our weather, for the most part, is mild and free from extremes like hurricanes, tornados, ice storms or “lake effect” snow storms. With the exception of an occasional “Arctic blast,” we’ve got it pretty darn good.

Water: Also something we take for granted. Nothing brought into focus the need for a dependable public water supply more than our 120-plus-day drought this summer. Without the availability of water coming out the end of my hoses, I think it is safe to say I would have lost a considerable number of plants in my landscape this summer. Having grown up in Southern California where the water is hard as rocks and reeks of chlorine, I can honestly say that we have some of the best water anywhere.

Geraniums: This might seem silly, but the 106 geraniums I planted in my containers this summer brought me endless hours of visual enjoyment. Their vibrant colors sizzled during those 120 days of sunshine and when it was all over, I managed to salvage 72 of them for, hopefully, next year’s containers. Let’s give thanks for the dependability of geraniums.

New color choices: I am forever thankful for the impassioned work of plant breeders, who every year bring us new and exciting introductions. From roses to radishes and zinnias to zucchini, there is always something new and fun to try out in the garden. I love them all, except maybe yellow petunias which have never seemed right to me. And as much as everyone wants to see a true-blue rose, somehow, I don’t think that is going to feel right to me, either — or green hladiolas for that matter.

New tools: My best purchase this year was a “Root Slayer” shovel. It severs roots up to 2 inches in diameter in a single pass and has an innovative O-handle that gives you more digging power and less hand and arm fatigue. Like all tools, keep it sharp and it will serve you well into your dotage.

As always, there is lots to be thankful for. This season, slow down, take a minute and reflect on what you are grateful for in your garden, and then share that attitude of gratitude with your fellow gardeners. It will make the most ordinary things become extraordinary and create a more fuller expression of life.

Steve Smith represents Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at

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