In my previous life I got paid to drive around people’s pastures and look at plants. Of course I was being paid to look at grasses not mulberry trees and plums, but in the spring sometimes I would pop over a hill and see daffodils. Daffodils and tulips are not found on the USDA list of plants native to Nebraska. These bulbs had been planted by hardy pioneer stock, but somehow proved to be hardier than the homesteader herself. I often found them growing in a box shape under a cathedral of cottonwoods, the box outlining an invisible sod house which had melted back into the earth.

A flower garden tells us a lot about a person. I am no landscaper. My gardens tend to be filled with hardy perennials, often native plants transplanted from various places. When I can’t find the real thing in a native version, I will purchase the sub-standard greenhouse version. What does this say about me? I don’t like to spend a lot of money or time on my flowers, either designing the layout, planting them or watering them. But I like them, and first thing this spring I found a scabiosa to put in my garden so it felt like home. Scabiosa is not native, but it has sentimental value for me and it blooms all summer if you remember to water it.

Grandma had a variety of bulbs scattered around, and now I see some brave poppies thinking about blooming. But Grandma was known for her roses. I am now the proud owner of about 15 roses. Fussy flowers, if you ask me. They are every color you can imagine and she seems to have found the perfect place for them or they would not have lasted this long.

My back yard is surrounded by a lovely chain-link fence, and growing through the fence is a nasty vine. The same kind of vine that looks nice on my mother’s wall. I have declared war on it, because last fall when it died I noticed that the schoolhouse rose underneath had not quite choked to death. I call it a schoolhouse rose; it came from a cutting somewhere because it sure didn’t come from Jackson-Perkins. These yellow rose bushes have survived like the daffodils beside abandoned schools and ghost-houses, they set down deeper roots than many of the pioneers who struggled to raise dryland crops out here.

In an effort to save the one rose I can relate to, I have resolved to jerk all the vine’s runners out until the whole thing dies. I expect we are looking at ten years before it is completely gone. Tonight while I was yanking on all the new vine growth I noticed my rose was blooming!


You can see the poppy in the background.

A friend of mine is also living in his grandmother’s house. I remember her raising (even breeding [corming?] if you could call it that) iris, so I asked if any had survived the many years since her death. He said that his grandfather’s second wife had removed the iris. Clearly she was not my kind of gardener, as I look at any kind of perennial as a great place to start with a garden. Then we visited about the hikes I have been taking the kids on in the hills behind Dad’s house. My friend asked if I was packing a gun along with the sunscreen and water. I had to admit I was not. He said people had seen mountain lions up there last year. This leaves me with all kinds of unanswered questions, like how do I hike with a sidearm and four kids? And what the heck kind of gun can I bring along with any amount of safety, or should I just risk being eaten raw by a mountain lion?