Rain knocks scheduled garden work off the calendar, let's go garden shopping

Bil Bowden

Growing roses is therapy. In my mind, roses are flower world royalty. The crimsons, bronzes, golds, lavenders and ghostly whites accent their shapes, making their care a pleasure, not a chore.

I was lovin' it. Strange, eh? Kneeling in the dirt, sweaty, sniffing insecticides, my sinuses feeling stuffy as a bail of hay.

So, there I was on this day, pruning, spraying, picking and 'beautifying' my 40 rose plants. (Yes, I over-did it, and down to eight now.) There were rakes, shovels, spray bottles, cans, pruning shears, heavy gloves and chemicals enough to set off alarms somewhere.

It was a warm, sunny afternoon.  And, here comes an elderly man, shuffling slowly down the sidewalk. A baseball hat shaded what I imagined was his bald head, bib overalls reminded me of an old Hee Haw television show, and his old T-shirt must have come from down deep in the T-shirt drawer.

He stopped, looked over at me and smiled. I was flattered, he must like my roses, I thought.

"Pretty flowers," he said quietly. "What not plant sumptin' you can eat?"  And he wandered off.

I don't remember my stuttering comeback, but it was certainly more stupid than brilliant.

Can't argue with his logic. Roses won't feed you for long. Thorns are murder on the stomach.

Still, I refuse to plant veggies because I'd have to eat them. And then I'd  miss my nearly-daily visit to visit Ronald and his friends for lunch under the arches. A veggie garden is a great idea in May. It's OK in June. But by July and temperatures beyond 90, it's torture. August is a weed farm, bug-infested vegetables and something else to mow around. Nope, no veggies for me. Would rather spend a few bucks at the grocery store than bucks at the drug store for muscle liniment or more laundry detergent for the muddy clothes.

But even with the stipulation that there will be no veggie garden here, Wednesday's morning rainfall knocked a lot of outdoor work off the calendar.

At least, that's the excuse I used.

It's tough cutting the grass when it's wet and no warm sun to dry it. The rain would have made it easier to dig post holes for the fence or the bird feeder, and edging might have been a breeze, like digging in mud.

But all that was ignored. Instead, spent the day checking out the flowers, bushes and trees at Stauffers of Kissel HillHome & Garden Store on East Market Street. Window shopping. 

It's about time to start planting your garden (either kind). Some experts say it should have been done already, and a look at some of the community gardens around prove that a lot of folks are taking their advice. Others suggest waiting until May 8. (Really? Not May 7 or 9?)

A look around the area shows a crowd of retailers willing to part with their flower and veggie stock, and most will guarantee their perennial plants for a year. If your green thumb is a very, very dark shade of green (read: black) like mine, just keep the receipt and maybe the container in which it was planted and if it goes roots up next year, take it back for a refund.

Stauffers, Lowe's, Home Depot, WalMart and Kmart all have one year plans.

At Stauffer's on Wednesday, Gary was the expert in residence and was helping out some shoppers who didn't know the difference between a cauliflower and a sunflower. Explained timely planting, the technique, colors, different types of particular plants. Yep, this guy is a great reason to go to a genuine nursery instead of a hardware store for flowers.

On York's west end, stop in and visit Miller's Plant Farm at 430 Indian Rock Dam Rd, York, PA 17403. If all the farm's stock overwhelms you, stop in at the bakery for a breather.

Can't find exactly what you want? Check out Groff's Plant Farm in Kirkwood, Lancaster County, and prepare to be amazed at the selection there. Or Hoover's Nursery north of Rothsville, Lancaster, where the friendliest cashiers in the area work in bonnets and pretty, long dresses. Stauffer's, of course, is headquartered in Lancaster. Must be good dirt across the river?

Check the stock, and look close. Water drops sometimes make for pretty designs and colors.