It’s spring and things are starting to bloom. I love flowers and admire anyone who can grow them; however, I’m not one of them. The only plant life I can successfully cultivate grows into my sewer line and clogs it up. When my son used to wear a flower to church on Mother’s Day he wore a dandelion, because it’s the only thing that blooms in my yard. My mother, Bonnie Fite, was a genius in the garden. In fact, I have seen her grow an entire tree from a seed in a jelly glass in less than a week. She could grow a squash large enough to feed a family of eight for two years. But because my mother was such a wonder gardener, I felt I didn’t need to know anything. She would give me a plant and tell me where to plant it. I, in turn, would put the leafy side up and the dirt side down, pour some water over it and step back. Indoor plants followed a similar regime. Mother would give me a plant, I would kill it, and she would replace it. This seemed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement as mother got rid of her overabundance of plants and I practiced survival of the fittest. Seeing live plants around me I acquired a false sense of security and decided to landscape my back yard. I soon found out that planting a garden was like joining the Army, it wasn’t a job, it was a career. My first effort was a Hollyhock. I had seen these in my mother’s yard and had admired their large, colorful blossoms and tall stature. I bought half a dozen of the little plants and headed home to my yard – the last deposit of solid limestone in this part of the state. I soon found that my Hollyhocks had a unique talent – they were barometers. In high winds they fell over and broke off at the ground and in heavy rains they lost their blooms altogether. It was then that I realized like most mentally unstable gardeners, that I needed some professional help, so I called a local nursery. I asked them what to plant in a spot in my yard that got only late sun, had poor soil and was in a low spot where water collected. They told me to plant a flagpole. Plants, however, are not my only problem. The equipment that goes with gardening is also a test of patience. Take our sprinkler; it has two settings, “drool” which creates a puddle of water six inches deep in a circle about a yard in diameter and “monsoon,” which propels a high-velocity water jet into the garage, my car and the street. Because of my gardening experiences, I have developed a new philosophy. I no longer expect everything to grow or anything to look like the package. I am pleased that the birds, squirrels and bunnies like what I grow; it saves me from buying them food. Gardening has inspired in me an appreciation for the fragility of a rare orchid and the tenacity of ground cover that can grow right through the concrete in my driveway. It has also taught me the following lessons: • Gardening is the art of killing weeds and bugs in order to grow flowers and crops for rabbits and birds to eat. • Annuals are plants that die each year before blooming. • A hardy plant is any plant that stays alive in the nursery long enough to be sold. • And the dog is the only garden pest to be domesticated. So here’s to all of you with a green thumb. Keep Planting! I need someplace to send my son for flowers on Mother’s Day.