Years ago, when all we had was three acres of canvas and long before we built our home in 2012, I wanted to have wildflowers, so I bought an $8 box of seed that promised to cover 100 square feet with wildflowers, dug a 10 by 10 foot square in the field and scattered the box’s contents.
For the rest of that summer, the square of dirt mostly remained a hapless square of dirt, with a handful of scraggly plants that did not cover 100 square feet with much of anything. It was not a success by any means.
The only memorable flower that did bloom was a fragile pink blossom with a yellow center. “Thank you,” I said to that flower, “At least I got one flower out of that box.”
Since then we have approached wildflowers a lot less wildly, purchasing plants that have advanced past seed, planting them strategically and letting them go. We now have lovely areas of cup plants, compass plants, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans, among others, that have seeded and gradually grown into colorful colonies.
Funny thing, though – every so often I’ll see a fragile little pink flower with a yellow center that has popped up in a random spot, a descendant of that first forlorn blossom in the 10 by 10 square of dirt, at least a decade ago now.
And this summer —
This summer, in an overgrown area so thick with woody vines and weeds that we have never bothered to try to clearing it, we have a veritable explosion of fragile pink flowers with yellow centers – dozens of them. There are also quite a few milkweed plants in that thicket, which monarchs love.
It seems leaving nature alone, patiently, is also a strategy.
My hapless square of dirt contributed to the overall beauty of this place after all, slowly and tenaciously and delightful-surprisingly. I gave up on that particular 10 by 10 square, which is now just another patch of grass, so the fragile little flower found another place to thrive.
Lesson learned. Beauty will find a way. Expect surprise.