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Pulverized Poppies

ILLUSTRATIONS BY MARILYNNE ROACH

My mother believed in mass plantings of bold colors. One of her favorites was a gorgeous patch of red Oriental poppies. Their flamboyant crepe-paper petals and mysterious black velvet interiors always fascinated me, so one year I decided to duplicate their magic in my own garden. I sowed seed and new feathery shoots soon appeared. Now I had to be patient for a year as my darling poppy children matured to blooming size.

My husband was also a gardener, but we had separate growing spaces. He was Vegetable Man and I was Flower Gal. While I was excited about poppies, he was in high spirits over his new fancy, multi-tasking rototiller. So it was no surprise to see him till his gar-den until it was the consistency of cornmeal. He offered to create more garden space for me, so I marked off an area adjacent to an established bed. I got home that night to find that my new flowerbed was filled with teeny, tiny, chopped-up poppy foliage. My poppy children were gone!

I don’t usually hold grudges for long, but that winter seemed a bit chillier than usual. When the seed catalogs arrived in January, I again ordered packets for those striking crimson beauties. One morning, once milder days arrived, we both brought our coffee out to contemplate our garden plans. My eyes searched the site he’d cornmealed—and there before me lay the most beautiful, feathery, green carpet of poppy fledglings. There were thousands of them! His tiller had broken small roots into many pieces, each of which had become a new plant. This would become a crimson carpet surpassing all expectations.

Flower Gal smiled at Vegetable Man. Life was good.

What’s your worst gardening mistake? Send it to GREENPRINTS, Broken Trowel Award, P.O. Box 1355, Fairview, NC 28730. If we print it, you’ll get a free one-year subscription and our GREENPRINTS Companion CD!


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