I love to garden. I love to plan in the dead of winter. I love to buy seeds and prepare the soil. I love to go to the nursery to pick out the plants in my plan and even go a little bit by “instinct” some years. I even love to put the plants in the soil and water them faithfully the first month or so, until they “take” and I can relax and enjoy.
Several years ago, Hubby and I took our family went to a wonderful indoor zoo in Minnesota. We all became fascinated with their butterfly garden and decided we would try to replicate it in our Midwestern garden. As the official family gardener, I began to do research as soon as we got home that August. I also learned the plants I would have to include would also attract hummingbirds as well.
We made a list of plants we would want to include, decided where in the garden we locate these plants—and chose the area right under our kitchen window so we could watch—and looked for feeders to entice the butterflies and hummingbirds. After the lists were made and feeders bought, there was nothing to do but wait for fall and winter to pass so we could begin our plans in the spring.
That first year was truly an experiment. In the past, I had always planted things in my garden I was familiar with, knowing what to expect and when. With this garden, it was more of a question of following what I had read and waiting and watching. I was pleased with the cone flowers and bee balm and yarrow and black-eyed-Susans. It surprised me to have the phlox—plants I have been growing since I was a little girl—not do well and develop powder mold. It delighted me to have the mini-roses—a type of rose I had not tried before—do very well. And the daisies–THE DAISIES—took over!
Every year since that first year, I have added to or taken out plants. My goal is not have to do a thing, once the initial weeding is done in the early spring. And every year, it is closer to being the fact. And the butterflies and hummingbirds are coming, more each year. I have not had good luck with milkweed but my phlox have gradually improved.
The last two years, I have tried something new, something which goes against my planning of this garden and in doing so; I have improved it and have attracted more of those beautiful flying critters. And it is more breathtaking than ever. I plan to continue with this strategy. I decided I wanted more of a wild look, more of a random feel and more of a surprise for ME. I simply left the plants I had already planted where they were and bought wildflower seed mixes intended to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Two years ago, I scattered the seeds in a bare portion of the garden and got some interesting plants such as asters and marigolds and one VERY BIG sunflower. Last spring, I bought roll out flower mats and cut them in smaller sections and dispersed them in a very unmethodical way. I had cosmos and lots of asters and more sunflowers than I thought could fit in that area but…I got my surprises last year and I was very happy. And there was a little bit of a surprise I hadn’t expected as well. Our entrance in the front of our house is formal, with hostas and daylilies and pots of pansies and geraniums. And one, lone Queen Anne’s Lace alongside the hostas, looking out of place, but beautiful. Hubby asked me if I wanted it pulled and I kept telling him I liked there. I don’t know how the Queen Anne’s got there—a seed carried on the wind?—but I liked it where it is.
Our children with autism are like those wildflower seeds. We’re not sure where they came from or how they happened to be with us, as part of our families–but they are part of us. They add their own special beauty to our perfect lives despite our plans. And it’s okay to enjoy their unexpected beauty.
Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!