Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2014


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WHEN THE LILACS BLOOM,” my new fiction short story is now available in the July/August/September 2014 issue of The Storyteller Magazine. Read the story and purchase the magazine for a nominal cost at:

“WHAT DO YOU OWE YOUR AUDIENCE?” – Tiny-Lights, Searchlights and Signal Flares. Read my article online at:


WRITERS WORDS: “The seed never sees the flower. –“a Zen saying”




Most summer mornings, a cup of coffee in hand, I stroll outside and admire my townhome’s small front and back flower gardens. I watched while each perennial variety sprung to life after surviving the harsh upstate New York winter. I picked fragrant Lilies of the Valley, one of my favorite flowers, and their lovely scent lingered in the house for days. I’m now enjoying many of summer’s annual and perennial blooms: white and pink cone flowers, multi-colored day lilies, yellow primroses, coleus, green and white leaf hosta, snow on the mountain, Johnny jump-ups, golden daisies, coreopsis, geraniums, and a patch of leafy ferns that have thrived by the back fence for years. However, this year a special gardening project has consumed most of my time–The Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata).

Last winter while visiting family in Arizona, a trip to Sedona found me sipping a variety of wines at a local winery and checking out items in their small gift shop. A rabid gardener, I was enthralled when I spotted a display of native wildflower seed packets. “Beautiful two inch lemon yellow flowers on long stems with silvery green foliage blooms in the spring and after the summer rains. Native to the western US and northern Mexico, plant this drought tolerant perennial flower in the fall to early spring. Packet will cover approximately 30 square feet. Water sparingly.” Although desert marigolds are planted in fall/winter seasons in Arizona, I packed them in my suitcase to plant in the New York spring.

Although it had been many years since I sowed flowers from seed, my tale of the desert marigold began in a soil-filled pot where I dumped all the seeds. After moistening the soil, I covered the top of the pot with a generic piece of Glad-Wrap and waited. I hovered over that pot like a new mother with her first-born. A week later, two tiny little green spots emerged. The next day one more little green spot appeared.  Sadly, only three seeds germinated, but I rejoiced when two leaves became four and uncovered the pot.

Caring for my precious seedlings became a morning ritual. A little bit of water and some sunshine outdoors until they developed more leaves and were hardy enough to tolerate the hot sun on the deck—their desert away from home. Every evening when the nights cooled, I placed the small plants just inside the deck’s slider door. On windy and rainy days they remained indoors, but sunny days found them outdoors until dusk. I tried my best to mimic the hot heat of the desert while protecting them from the Northeast’s sporadic weather. I was ecstatic when the first bud formed among the silvery green leaves. Soon more buds formed and shortly after two small lemon yellow flowers bloomed on long, thin stems.

I did it–a horticultural coup! I grew a southwestern Desert Marigold wildflower in New York State. I felt a rush of euphoria equal to the time my first short story was accepted for publication.

Gardeners & Writers: I’d love to hear your “growing” experience!



    What’s that desert marigold doing upstate
    Hanging out with the grasses?
    How can it return to gravel
    After feeding on rich soils?
    Will it luxuriate away its silver hued leaves
    for pine tones now that it’s said goodbye
    To grey rock for lush deep green?

    It looks like a pretty child, albeit a bit spoiled,
    Who forsook scraped knees for velvet skirts.


  2. Jana,
    I loved your comments on the Desert Marigold. I’m sure it’s happier in the desert habitat but rose to my challenge to make me a happier gardener:)


  3. Congratulations on your gardening coup.
    All that TLC paid off and up state NY is blessed with beautiful visitor from Sedona.


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