Privilege Blog

The Kind Of Garden Just About Anyone Can Grow


Of all my retirement projects, my container garden may provide the most small and bubbling happinesses. I started it back in July, from seed. I planted Grandpa Ott morning glories, sweet alyssum, purple basil, and delphiniums. If you are hypothesizing that this led to an all-purple extravaganza, you are quite right. But it took time.


The morning glories grew first. Like crazy.


The alyssum sprouted too. The basil dilly-dallied, the delphiniums did nothing. I pouted.

Then, before we left for England, I threw some petunias in one of the pots to compensate for my laggards. I set up a drip tubing system, of which I was very proud until I discovered that my 60-year old hose bib and faucet leaked. Cue Operation Cute Little Neighbor Girls to water in my absence.


Serendipitously, the tubing served as great climbing support for the morning glories. Such is gardening. Upon my return from travel, I thinned those purple trumpets mightily,  in order to add a bougainvillea from the nursery. Also scrounged up two more pots. Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound.


I filled the two empty pots with petunias and alyssum, also from the nursery. I’ll do seeds again next spring.


The alyssum flourished, the petunias did not, inexplicably. Such is gardening. Don’t you like my watering can? Is it vain to like one’s watering can and say so? I should mention that all this plant hubbub sits right outside one of the living room windows, and I can see it quite plainly from my perch on the sofa. I have loved experimenting with different shades of one hue. Sustains me from morning,


to night.


As does the purple basil, which I pinch and eat, regularly. And guess what happened? Those delphinium seeds? About a month and a half after I planted them, this sprouted.

Yup, a delphinium.


I have high hopes. Such, my friends, is gardening, even writ small.


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39 Responses

  1. I love your layered container garden! My parents have multiple home-made raised/boxed garden beds which have yielded a lot of wonderful things for them. Their passive-solar house is on top of a ridge, so while it is great for sunlight the ridgetop has thick Virginia clay – raised garden beds to the rescue! Both flora and edibles have rejoiced since then :)

  2. A beautiful, colorful garden such as yours nurtures the soul, don’t you think? It makes your sofa perch that much more delightful and the lovely blossoms from all your plantings brings joy to you each day. Love your potted garden and the variety of plantings. I have a sitting spot that overlooks a park and some rolling hills. It’s my thoughtful spot ( like Winnie the Pooh’s!)

    1. @Candace, Yes, being able to look up and let my gaze wander is on my top 10 for mental health list. I’d love to overlook rolling hills, too.

  3. “Such is gardening” is so true. Another of my favorite sayings is “To plant a garden is to believe in the future.”

    As your container garden is right outside a window, did you know that the very deep purple petunias – and only those, so far as I know – have a slightly spicy scent, reminiscent of cloves? That might be nice for those open window days.

  4. Flowers in pots are about my speed. They usually sit someplace where I will see them in the course of a normal day, and it’s easy to pinch, weed or water while going about my business.

    If I get things in the corners of my yard it seems like so much effort to tend them, I’m almost certain to forget about them.

    You get extra credit for doing it from seed!

    1. @RoseAG, Yes, if you can tend to something as an offshoot of puttering, it’s great. And the from seed wasn’t hard work at all, more like entertainment!

  5. Oh, I don’t dare plant anything in Southern California. We just don’t have water. My sylvan glen is turning into a desert! Lucky you. Doesn’t it feel good to plant and actually have the plants grow and flourish?

    1. @Sandra Sallin, We don’t have a lot of water. But these plants in pots only need about 2 watering cans worth per week. I’d rather let my small lawn die – it’s a commodity – and enjoy the individuality of flowers.

  6. So satisfying, isn’t it, to plan a project like that and see it flourish so beautifully! I really want/need to get back to the garden — I’ve been letting P do way too much of it, and I miss it. . .
    I’m curious — will those keep on growing through the next few months, and flowering as well? Most of our herbaceous perennials and all the annuals will have disappeared here by the end of October. . .
    (and echoing Sue in the True Confessions — I rarely have the patience or discipline for nurturing seeds)

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, I don’t actually know what’s going to happen! This is the first time I’ve planted without the thought that I’d refill with the next season. The bougainvillea should, except I now believe it’s not getting enough sun and may have to be moved…

  7. Lacking enough sun, and a long enough growing season, I probably couldn’t do this combo. I’m still figuring out the sun in our new home, and unlike California, we have been plagued by overly wet gardens for part of this year. Dark purple petunias went into my pots this year, and thrived for awhile, and then quit. Just as I thought about pulling them out, the nights turned cooler, and the petunias came back. I would love to see such a pretty sight from my front window, but shaded by a large oak tree, this will likely never happen!

    1. @Ellen, I guess you’d have to find a set of fast-growers if you started from seed. And those who tolerate shade. Wonder what that Venn diagram looks like. Hmm.

  8. Oh such a thrill. I have been continually amazed over the years, how such a simple thing as a few seeds in a pot can bring such enormous joy. This summer my pots were abandoned as I was away far too much of the summer, and fall is advancing too rapidly to have much hope for a long growing season. But there is next year.

  9. Enjoying your spirit of experimentation and flexibility; also, what a joy to have little girls come over to help. Gardening to me is most fun when it involves a community or at least neighbours.

  10. Your high WASP hands have turned a delicate shade of green and it suits you!
    Show what you grow and share what you know…our Victoria Horticultural Society motto.
    Hope you keep your hand in…

  11. Your gardening has gone so much better than mine, but I think your weather is more conducive. Due to the very serious lack of water here, I am not planing anything.

  12. I maintain 3 sites in Florida; a French Bakery, a clothing shop, and an Episcopal Church’s memorial garden and front beds in New Smyrna Beach. Gardening never ceases to amaze and amuse!

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