Photo Essay

Zinnias, a personal Taj Mahal

Youthful Zinnia 2012

It begins, now, at the end of the summer season, the cutting of tops of the flowers for seeds in the spring. It began the year we moved into our house, 1999. My husband replaced the rotting bulbs I had planted with wildflowers, which included zinnias. I'm very good at some things, but knowing about and properly raising flowers is not one of my skills. I cried when he told me that the $300 worth of tulip and Lilly bulbs I had carefully placed in the earth with a "bulb" planter, had all been consumed by some root/bulb eating worm. I still do not know what it was, but now I don't care. I have my zinnias.

My love works hard for a week every spring, tilling the earth and adding a Ford pickup truck load of dark, gritty mushroom dirt and another of horse manure. He unloads the truck with a shovel, and occasionally, if I come home before he's finished, I help some. Most of the real labor, he does for me, and a little for the beauty itself. He lays black plastic for the purpose of protecting the flowers and keeping out the weeds, then plants seeds from last year's blooms.

He cares for the yard now, since he has retired. He also cooks. These are both chores in which he has discovered great joy.

We sit on the porch in July and watch the butterflies and bees fly from flower to flower in front of the house and across the road. There are more varieties, it seems, than there are at the butterfly garden at the world famous Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. We watch and sip coffee most mornings.

When it fails to rain, I water the flowers thoroughly. I won't allow them to die or disappear before the frost. I love the variations of color, like nail polish bottles that line the shelves of Happy Nails. I water, cut, and photograph them. There are always fresh cut bouquets on the dining table and in the kitchen. Sometimes I will place a single flower in a small vase my granddaughter, Bonnie made and put it in the bathroom. I try to bring flowers to friends and family when I visit. I have discovered it is nearly impossible to cut them as fast as they bloom.

Zinnias were the beginning. Now he plants more, different flowers and plants. He fills the yard with beauty and color because, after forty six years, I am his favorite lady. I love this Poppa and his Taj Mahal to me.

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