‘We could make Stinking Creek alive with color next year’

Good-by Zinnias. They were so pretty, so colorful, such a bright spot on our farm! Some were tall, others short, some single, some double blossoms in a variety of colors from early summer right up to the frost. Those bright colors do attract people but the real reason for the bright colors is to attract bees and butterflies.

It is an amazing fact, that most flowers have the ability to reproduce themselves with the help of the bees, butterflies and humming birds. It takes a careful examination to locate the male and female parts hidden by the flowering part. Usually right in the middle of the blossom is the pistil which is the stem with the ovary down in the blossom. Located a little lower in that same blossom is the stamen which contains the pollen―the male chromosomes. When the bees dig down in the blossom to get the sweet nectar for food, some of the pollen sticks to them which they carry to another flower and some falls on the pistil. So the bees are important, but we people are also. It seems that too many people value a vast green lawn that can be mowed rather than take the time to plant some flowers; even flowers that will bloom for months without much care. The bigger the mowing instrument, the lesser the interest in the flower patch.

Last fall after the frost, I took the time to pick the flower seeds, careful to pick a variety rather than just from one plant. After they are dried, they can easily be stored in a container for the coming season. I had an abundance of seed to plant in a short row in the garden directly after the soil is warm. They can also be sewed earlier in a container to be planted out later. When the seedlings are about six to ten inches tall, it is time to transplant them where ever you want. We completely covered a large part of the lower end of the garden near the road with a thick covering of leaves which we had gathered the fall before. Then on a rainy day, we transplanted them helter-skelter, giving each plant about eight inches of space. They soaked up the rain, welcomed the sun and pushed their roots deep into the soil. Soon the leafy mulch was covered with green and soon after that blossoms began to peak out and by August there was carpet of colorful flowers humming with bees.

Oh, yes, we cut many bouquets for the house and for friends. The more we cut, the larger the bouquet in the garden grew with showy and vibrant colors of red, yellow and white with every color in between. What an inspiration for us as we walk and ride past the garden each day; it surely made our work worthwhile!

Now the frost has turned the flowers brown on drying stalks. Soon I will gather some seeds for the next season. It is an easy task; too easy because I will probably enjoy it so much, that I will harvest way more than I need. There is enough in that bed to plant zinnias in every yard on Stinking Creek. You are welcome to stop in; a cupful would plant a nice row or patch. We could make Stinking Creek alive with color next year.