Rite of Spring

Dahlinova Texas dahlias

Dahlinova Texas dahlias

My husband was right. As usual.

In March, I declared that I wasn’t going to start my container garden until Memorial Day weekend, when I return from a trip to Spain. He said I would never be able to hold out that long. Determined to prove him wrong, I held firm—until seedlings started appearing in greengrocers, farmers markets, and gardening stores. Then, of course, my resolve crumbled (especially since he’ll be at home to water them in my absence).

Basil and dill came home first. Then mint and thyme. A lovely pot of purple calla lilies proved irresistible, and I’ve always loved dahlias. Last year the begonias did very well in the little plot around the tree, so I had buy those too.

Ruby Sensation calla lilies

Ruby Sensation calla lilies

Then a farmer’s market happened to have a variety of mandevilla that was different from the one I grew last year—this one with marvelous, deeply ribbed leaves that look as if they belong in a primeval jungle. And of course, I needed a pot of flowers to hang on the railing at street level, so I invested in purple-and white, candy-striped petunias.

How can I explain this obsession with bringing plants into my life?

“I’ve made an odd discovery,” wrote British philosopher Bertrand Russell many years ago. “Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite.”

Dahlinova Texas dahlias

Dahlinova Texas dahlias

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