Is there anything more cheerful than a marigold? (Ok maybe his big brother, Sunflower, but it’s not sweet little Marigold’s fault he’s vertically challenged). The round yellow heads just keep popping up with little fuss. My kind of flower. And I’m loving this variety I found at Lowe’s Home Improvement this year. Proud Mari indeed! I originally bought them to use as centerpieces at a church preschool function, but they found their way to my front flowerbed. Together with their friends, pink verbena, they have brightened up the front of our house considerably. And brightening is needed because our house is…well…brown. In fact my whole neighborhood is brown. It’s a theme.
Now not to be judgmental but brown just doesn’t rank as one of my favorite colors. It has no pizzazz. It’s basically boring. In fact, when I met my husband he was wearing a lot of brown and driving a brown car. I whipped that into shape immediately! Soon he was driving a red car and wearing colorful ties. I brought dazzling color to his life in so many ways…not to brag. But I digress. Back to my new neighborhood, it’s one of those carefully planned communities where everything blends in. For some reason the powers-that-be decided to build every house in a shade of brown brick, with brown trim and brown doors. I mean literally, for the first 2 months I had trouble recognizing my own home! Now you might ask, “ why would such a color-loving girl choose a brown house in a brown neighborhood?” Well the answer is…I love this house. It had the kitchen I wanted, and the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, with a suite downstairs for our elderly parents to use when they visit. It has big windows and lots of light. It has the perfect blank-canvas backyard with a little woods in the back. And I knew that with a bit of help from, say, some marigolds, I could perk up the front and make it mine. I’m giving brown a chance.
The front yard of our brown house is planted with typical builder-choice plants: boxwoods and hollies, a few loropetalum and one lovely crepe myrtle. And the always southern choice, azaleas. We had several small scraggly azaleas right at the front steps who met their demise during an ice storm just a few weeks after we moved in. A sheet of ice came sliding off the porch roof and basically beheaded them. Come spring the yard man, not my husband, wanted to put in more azaleas but I said NO. For one thing it was not a great place for them anyway since it gets full, direct, hot sun about 29 hours a day, and second of all I had other plans. I’ve always got other plans. Perennials were on my mind, with a few annuals thrown in to keep it fresh. So I spent a couple of very pleasant spring days putting in my marigolds and verbena plus some backdrop coreopsis and artemisia. And a couple of peonies since I LOVE LOVE LOVE peonies. It makes me soooo happy to go out front and see my brown house starting to smile. Because that’s what flowers are…..a smile on the face of your home.
What doesn’t make me happy are my flower boxes. Actually, I love flower boxes when they are used appropriately. But in the genius of home design I have two flower boxes that cannot be reached from the ground. You either need a big ladder or you must go inside and hang out a window to plant and water. I’m convinced a man planned this as any woman would know this is an untenable situation. A man just thought that “the little woman” would fall in love with cute flower boxes and buy his carefully-designed house. For the record, I did NOT buy this house for the flower boxes, but now I have to deal with them. I chose the hanging out the window method. I’ll skip the part where we couldn’t get the screen out of the window for days and we almost gave up until my husband finally took a screwdriver and pried the thing out. He’s handy like that. I then stuck half my body through while he ferried dirt and flowers from downstairs/outside. I planted petunias and sweet potato vine. (I adore the brightness of sweet potato vine!) and now the watering begins, because anyone who has ever had a window box knows that watering must happen regularly, not haphazardly when you might think of it, but almost daily in the heat of the summer.
So if you happen to be driving through my brown neighborhood anytime soon and see a women hanging out the window of the marigold house, don’t be alarmed and call 911. That’s just me desperately trying to keep the flower boxes smiling.