Last year I grew the most amazing zinnia bush ever. “Bush?” you say. Okay, I know that zinnias don’t grow as bushes, but this particular plant looked like one. I tried to contain it by using a tomato cage, and it ended up busting out the sides and growing in every direction. I added a few stakes and still couldn’t contain it!
But let me back up the story. I had been growing cabbage and cauliflower in a bed next to my compost pile, and after quite a disappointing crop, I spaded under what was left of the plants to break down into the soil. Being in close proximity to the compost, I thought I ought to work on building up the soil in the cabbage-cauliflower bed, so I added a few spadefuls of decomposed garbage gold and resolved to work on it again soon.
A few weeks later I noticed a lone zinnia growing out of the bed, and I didn’t have the heart to pluck it. So I let it grow. And basically ignored it.
The “little zinnia that could” grew like most zinnias I’d grown before, so I didn’t think much of it. The seedling got water when I set the sprinkler to hit the strawberry patch, but I didn’t go out of my way to do anything special. Before I knew it, the plant bloomed, resulting in a large, beautiful maroon flower.
As the days of summer passed, the blooms kept coming furiously and the plant kept pushing toward the sun until I had to slip a tomato cage around it for support. By then the stem of the plant was more like a stalk, and blooms shot out in all directions, providing a gorgeous show of color with dozens of large flowers on that same lone zinnia.
And it kept going all the way until frost. “Be sure and save some seed,” Mom said one day, admiring the hardiness and beauty of my once lone zinnia. So I did. Honestly, in all my years of gardening, I’d never seen anything like it.
So do I have any practical tips for growing zinnias? Oh, I imagine turning the less than spectacular cabbage and cauliflower crop under fed the soil as did the spadefuls of compost. But I’m thinking there was a lesson designed specifically for me in this lovely floral show I enjoyed all summer long.
The truth is, I didn’t plant it, nor did I do much to care for it. In fact, I’d been nurturing other plants in the garden, and the season was rather lackluster for me as far as gardening years go. One of the worst I’d ever had.
Except for one lone zinnia.
Perhaps the lesson for me is that we are given gifts we neither requested or earned. Blessings undeserved.
We can accept these gifts, cast them aside, ignore them, or appreciate them with a grateful heart.
I know what I’m going to choose.
P.S. Several of the seeds from this super zinnia have sprouted. I’ll keep readers posted as to what develops!