Essay Non-Fiction posted January 12, 2020

This work has reached the exceptional level
A lesson in landscaping

Being Led Down the Garden Path

by Susan Larson

True Story Contest Contest Winner 

"My 90th birthday's coming up next week and as far as I can tell, I'm the oldest person in the neighborhood. Do I get a prize for that?" Mrs. Grindle asked over the phone.

We'd just moved in a few months earlier and I'd been drafted as president of the women's club. You know the old line -- they needed new blood.

For this, I drew on some of the old blood, a former president, who agreed to put a balloon on Mrs. Grindle's mailbox and buy the elderly lady a prize. When the birthday girl called to thank me, she said, "Do you need groundcover? I have lots of Dusty Miller. You can have as much as you want."

Our yard was pretty bare, so I took her up on her offer. When I got there, she said, "Please call me Pat. It makes me feel old to have someone your age call me Mrs. Grindle."

"Treating someone your age like a peer makes me feel old," I said.

"Maybe so, but you won't win any prize for it!" she retorted.

I planted the soft aqua sprigs around the day lilies my neighbor, Marge, had given me. They soon took over the hillside outside our dining room window.

Marge, a master gardener, said, "I've never seen Dusty Miller that looks like that. It must be a rare variety."

After a few years, our budget loosened up enough that we could focus on our interior decor. When I looked for dining room wallpaper, the first sample I turned to had a muted aqua background with soft orange tiger lilies. Kind of like a Monet version of my flowerbed. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend. But then, how many people manage to find wallpaper to match their landscaping?

The following spring, the Dusty Miller had spread beyond belief.

"I looked in all my gardening books," Marge said. "There's no variety of Dusty Miller that comes back every year like that. But whatever it is, it sure looks nice with your wallpaper."

Time passed. I saw an estate sale at Pat's house. Her daughter, Linda, welcomed me inside. I told her how special her mother had been to me and how blessed I felt to have some of her Dusty Miller.

"You mean that stuff out back?" Linda asked, scrunching her nose and then laughing. "Susan, that's a weed. Mother told people it was Dusty Miller and said they could take all they want since it was the only way she knew to keep the stuff under control."

If anyone out there knew and loved Pat as much as I did, and would like a little something to remember her by, I have a yard full of her Dusty Miller. You can have as much as you want.

True Story Contest
Contest Winner



This is an excerpt from my book, A Word's Worth, available on Amazon.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2021. Susan Larson All rights reserved.
Susan Larson has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.