The subject comes around from time to time

Usually when I travel.

Flower envy.

I’d define it as wanting to grow things

That just won’t grow where you live.

After all

There’s a reason for USDA Hardiness zones.

It’s hard to grow palm trees in much of the world!

My flower envy began young.

As a nine-year old my family traveled to Maui

My father had been stationed there during WWII

The Marines would leave the safety of Maui for places

Like Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.

But he had a love for an undeveloped Maui

And it’s people.

In 1959 just before my older sister turned old enough

To have to pay full fare.

He and mother took us all there to meet the people

Who had welcomed a war tired Marine into their homes.

One of them was a doctor

Who grew orchids in his greenhouse.

He told mother and the three of us to go

And pick all the orchids we wanted

To make our own leis.


Can you imagine

Setting a nine-year old loose

In a greenhouse of orchids

To pick at will.

Talk about generosity.

I never realized it before just now,

But this is likely where my flower passion started.

My family traveled far and wide.

By the time I went to college

I’d been to 48 states.

Still haven’t made it to Utah and Alaska.

But the place we went most often

Was to the Rocky Mountains.

And there in the heat of summer

I would find smiling pansies, cosmos, daisies, geraniums and petunias.

Lots and lots of petunias.


John and I have continued this pattern

Especially since Elliott, Kristina, Harper and Henry

Live in Colorado.

We have visited most summers for several years.

And the flowers only get more extravagant.


After all, if your bread and butter as a state

Is tourism.

You want to look pretty.

And oh how pretty they look.


But there is a trade-off.

There always is.

And that trade-off is a short growing season.

The last freeze in these mountain towns.

Occurs in what they affectionately call “mud season”.

When all the snow is melting.

Technically it’s June 15th or so.

And the average first freeze is just after Labor Day.

Now all gardeners push the edges of these dates

To the limit.

We’ve all been nipped by a late or early freeze.

So while the cool days and nights

Allow for glorious blooming annuals and perennials


It’s still a trade-off.

They get three months of growing season.

I get nine sometimes ten.

Blooms lumber through my zone 7 backyard

From Valentine’s Day.

To Halloween or later.

In the mountains

It’s a flashy summer run.

Short and sweet

Or long and lovely.

I’m thankful I get to enjoy both.

And grateful for dirt under my fingernails

For so much of my life.




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4 responses to “FLOWER ENVY

  1. Colorado looks lovely and I envy you your extended growing season in zone 7. 🙂

  2. Susan

    Gail – – – what a wonderful article this is! Love your family story and beautiful flower photos and thought-provoking remarks! I really enjoy reading your blog! – – –

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