Green in the garden

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, July 8, 2015

As I watered my plants yesterday I couldn’t help but notice they seemed a little worse for wear. The same plants that practically popped with brilliant color just a few weeks ago looked decidedly faded. This heat is getting to them, and plants, just like people, respond to the weather conditions. It’s time to give them a little extra TLC.

I must admit on these hot days in July it is not quite as pleasurable to take care of the garden as on cooler days. But this is where gardeners’ true colors come out. Will I give in and just let them look shabby or baby them a little more so they still look lovely at summer’s end?

Watering can in hand, I touch the soil of each one before giving it a cool refreshing drink. Many of my gardening skills have come through trial and error, but these days it is so easy to find information on the computer that I have a better arsenal to combat the washed out appearance of my flowers.

One thing I have found is that the gardening tags on plants that read full sun are obviously speaking of full sun somewhere else. The sun beating down this time of year is even too much for my lantanas to look their absolute best. Lantana plants, with all their colorful variety, however, are really a hardy and easy plant to grow.

One year, not so very long ago, my late husband, Glen R., and I left our eldest son, Robby, in charge of home and hearth while we took a short vacation. He was in high school and could be trusted to hold the fort down for a few days, but I wasn’t quite sure he completely understood how important it was to water my plants adequately.

“Good grief, Mom! There is nothing to it. Don’t worry. Your plants will be safe with me,” Robby assured me with a grin. So off we went for a few days of R and R. We dined at nice restaurants, took in the sights, slept in and had a wonderful time.

When my mind wandered to how things were going at home we called the kids. In reality, we called quite frequently, not just to check on them, but because we missed them. Each time we called I felt relief hearing that they were also enjoying themselves, and things were going just fine.

I began to think that I should never have worried about leaving such responsible children in charge for a couple of days. It also made me feel a little sad that maybe I wasn’t such an indispensible part of their existence. As always, after a day or two alone, Glen R. and I started to really miss the kids and wonder what we ever did without them.

“Glen R., why don’t we leave a day early and surprise the kids?”

“I miss them too, Sweetheart. Why don’t we do that?”

We called the house and gave the man in charge a heads up that we were on our way home. Somehow, his voice didn’t seem as filled with excitement as we had anticipated. Instead, a somewhat sheepish voice said, “Mom, before you get home there is something I need to tell you.”

Imagining all sorts of terrible scenarios I practically screeched, “What’s wrong?”

“Well, Mom. I sort of forgot to water your plants. I think they may be OK, though. I’ll water them right now!”

Nothing like wilted plants to put things in perspective and make a mom feel needed.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at