Foolproof Flowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not a gardener, but I play one on TV. My backyard pursuits are mostly aimed at blowing off steam or killing time when our boys are playing outside and need an adult nearby. The fruits of my labor are always miraculous, because there’s no science and very little rhyme or reason to what I do. But I do so love the idea of a garden.

Last year, I added some foolproof flowers to my garden – made of metal – and fell in love with the way they helped dress up an otherwise drab chain link fence. By the end of summer, they were as tired and faded looking as the plants I stopped watering when it was too unbearably hot to keep up with them. But, unlike their live (or formerly live) counterparts, I could pack them away and try again next year.

When I pulled them out of the shed last weekend, I found myself wishing I had more than three of them. With no money for the soil or mulch or annuals I usually purchase to dress up our yard, these metal flowers may be the only spots of color I have this year. So I grabbed my acrylic paints and gave them each a makeover. Their faded yellow petals begged for something brighter to wear and I’m hoping the crap loads of sealant I sprayed on top of the fresh paint will keep them colorful a bit longer, if not all summer.

Now I find myself scanning the piles of trash our neighbors are putting out following their bouts of spring cleaning, thinking, “What else could I perk up with a fresh coat of paint?” I picture our backyard fence decorated with all the quirky outdoor decor you see on Pinterest – giant dragonflies made from old ceiling fan blades, painted metal watering cans, and funky window frames. Sure, they might make our neighbors raise an eyebrow or two, but they seem like a much more sensible use of my time and money than what I usually plant, that ends up eaten by bunnies, trampled by children, and murdered by one missed watering.

Come to think of it, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Well, this spring and summer (and from the looks of it, my entire year) I’m doing nothing the way I’ve done it before. Perhaps I’m onto something?


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