Last spring, when there was still a frigid winter in my heart, when sunshine scorched and violated me, I stayed inside nearly always. I had no strength in my body or in my heart to pay any attention to the flowerbed in the front yard.
Still, this transformation happened on my doorstep. They grew straight out of a pile of rocks and seemingly infertile soil.
Perennials are anniverary plants: they grow, bloom, die in the winter, and regrow from their own roots once again the spring.
Annuals are one-hit wonders of the plant family: they grow, bloom, drop their seeds and then die. If conditions are favorable, their seeds will come up the next year.
But not if their scattered seeds are swept away at the end of the season by a gardening husband who likes to start over every spring.
We have a flower bed by our front porch, and ever since our first summer in this home, Robb planted dozens of petunias. He watered, pinched, and pruned, and our entryway was colorful and welcoming.
(I take no credit for this tradition. I barely remembered to water them when he was traveling, and I fostered many an argument when I didn’t remember at all. The petunias were his beloved project, my vicarious delight.)
Each fall, he would pluck them all up, rake away the remnants, and let the flower bed grow dormant during the cold months. He left nothing to grow back on its own, and he bought a fresh flat of flowers in the spring, any colors I chose.
Petunias are annuals; they aren’t designed to come back on their own. And this spring, I didn’t have the heart or the energy to plant, prune, water, and remember.
But look what I found this week in the flower bed.
This first spring without their gardener, the petunias came back on their own.
Now, this is a sweet surprise.