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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

Today's second chances



Country Notebook

by Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson


After checking the obituaries in the Linn County Journal, and realizing I am not included, I now have a second-chance day to dance, sing, read, write, vacuum or anything else important for today.


In the last column, I wrote about my second-chance flowering quince bushes, which by the way are absolutely stunning along my driveway, all twelve of them. It is because of them, I decided to write a series on second chances.


Last summer’s heat and drought was hard on my gardens. I lost nearly all of my 25 or so Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees and spent the winter cutting out trees with about a 4-inch diameter. A few had some patchy green remaining, but evergreen type plants do not recover with new growth once a branch has turned brown. It was best to get over the loss and move on.


No second chances for the spruce trees, but it gives me another chance to plant vegetation with potential for being hardy, i.e. burning bush, lilac and flowering quince! In reality, I don’t have the willpower to fight another summer of watering. I’m not replacing bushes with bushes, but instead planting seeds and bulbs.


What gets the second chance is the amended soil from which the dead vegetation is removed. I’ve not only spent hundreds of dollars on plants, but topsoil, peat and fertilizers. So, I’m looking for gardeners who want to thin out their irises or daylilies, for example. Maybe I should run an ad in the Linn County Journal that reads, “Tired, Poor Gardener looking for new life!” The responses might be quite interesting.

Not feeling very lucky with my advertising gimmick, I best try planting with seeds, especially something inexpensive, tried and true, and drought resistant. The answer must surely be zinnias. In a discount store, I bought four packages for one dollar and I now have more than 30 seed packets ready to be spread everywhere around the farm.


At a recent writer’s group I attend, my idea was reinforced by a story told by one of the participants. She plants zinnias in an accessible location and puts up a sign suggesting passersby help themselves to cutting a bouquet. She then told the group that many individuals take her offer, but one person also returned later to share how the zinnia bouquet made a significant impact.


On her way to the hospital to visit her dying father, a young woman stopped to cut a bunch of flowers. She was given a second chance to give him one last gift.

Fun fact that makes zinnias even more attractive as the means to battle a potentially hot and dry summer, is that cutting the flower causes more blooms to grow. In other words, cutting is good for the zinnia plant.


People are somewhat like the zinnias. When we give of ourselves to others, we often grow in our faith, our commitments, and our understanding of the needs of other people. I like to think of zinnias when I recall the proverbial, “Grow Where You are Planted!” We must be careful how we cut time, energy, and money from our already stretched lives, but the result will likely be beautiful.

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