It was a breezy fall day in St. Louis today. But as much as I love fall, I’m reverting back to spring and summer to recap the lovelies that have graced the Riley garden since April.
For once, we had a pretty mild summer in St. Louis. I could actually go longer than 24 hours without watering my plants on most days. The year before, we experienced a drought in the region that kept us cooped us inside and our plants in permanent droop mode. This year was different. My plants thrived.
My biggest green thumb success, though, was my blue Endless Summer hydrangeas. After five years of living in our house, they were blooming like crazy and growing so large, you could see them peeking at you from the sidewalk. And, of course, since blue hydrangeas are my all-time favorite flowers, I was ecstatic about how well they were doing…
That is, until the house construction started. The area of stucco behind the hydrangeas needed replacement, so I let our contractor twist my arm and agree to digging the hydrangeas up and putting them in large pots to be stored in the backyard shade. Only a couple weeks into their new pots, we had a few days of rain, and a short time later, I noticed the hydrangeas starting to droop. Lo and behold, our contractor failed to drill drainage holes at the bottom of the pots. So for almost an entire week, the flowers had been sitting in still water. Mikey and I tipped the pots on their sides, so that all the water could drain out, but the damage was done. Both plants were dying, and despite our best attempts to dry them out, eventually all the leaves and stems turned dark.
We told our contractor about his major screw-up, and his response was that he couldn’t be held responsible for the plants. It wasn’t written into our contract or bid or anything. He did say that he’d talk to a landscaping friend of his to see what he could work out, but he never followed up with us. With so many other issues we had to deal with regarding the house construction, Mikey and I were both stressed to the max. It wasn’t worth fighting, and at this point, if anyone is going to lay a finger on my new hydrangeas, it is going to be me — not the guy who killed them in the first place.
Anyone with a passion for gardening knows how much of a loss something like this is. Yes, flowers are a material thing. But they’re also living things that can’t be replaced with a simple trip to the nursery. It takes time for plants to adjust to their new soil and surroundings and mature. Five years is a long time to wait for a new pair of hydrangeas to get back to the size and health that these ones were.
If I’m looking on the bright side, at least there have been many of other stunning flowers to delight me this year. Our flowers and shrubs have helped us make our mark on this house of ours, and I’ve always been a big fan of that saying: I’d rather have flowers on my table than diamonds on my finger. (Although don’t get me wrong — diamonds are cool, too.)