My peonies have curled up for another winter’s sleep. Knobby dahlia bulbs have been dug and tucked into bed inside a basement shoebox. All the self-seeding cherry tomatoes have been harvested.
But in the middle of my Michigan garden, there is an open space I leave it to its own resources. That place has already been claimed.
. Three summers ago, a slender green spear emerged, quickly followed by a sturdy younger sister. As June turned into July both grew into the stalks of gladiolas.
I’ve never been partial to gladiolas. They’ve draped across too many of the caskets for my relatives in Texas.
While I appreciate the manner in which Texans in small towns still pull off the road and pause as funeral processions move to the bluebonnet covered cemetery, the medallions of red gladiolas staked at every graveside has blurred my appreciation for them.
But my grandmother was fond of saying, “Sometimes it’s best to leave things be.” So I did.
When the gladiolas bloomed they unfolded into bright trumpets of lemonade yellow; hopeful shoots promising fresh new beginnings.
The following summer I was fortunate to be there on my knees tugging at dandelions when twenty-seven baby turtles climbed out from that place. I counted. Like blinking thumbs, each silver dollar sized snapping turtle emerged from a small opening, took one brief look at a sunlit Mulberry tree decked with chickadees, then headed off for our creek.
This summer a plant with heart-shaped leaves and climbing curlicues emerged and hinted at becoming a pumpkin or summer squash.
As August neared its end, I picked what looked like three zucchinis and carried them inside. Only when I sliced into them did I discover their true identity: fat, crispy cucumbers, the sweetest I have ever tasted.
We had another hard frost last night. I’ve raked the last of the red and gold leaves, and piled fresh cedar mulch over this open place in my garden. As finches nibble and rattle the dry seedpods, I settle back inside and ponder next year’s surprise.