My Dahlias Never Stand Up Straight

I have a friend (who I consider my gardening mentor) that is a professional gardener and highly-respected horticulturalist. The other day, she called to tell me that she had some sunflowers and annual climbers she was giving away that she had originally grown for a nursery that now no longer wanted them.

I was thrilled! All but one of the sunflower seeds I'd planted this spring, the birds had dug up and eaten. Yes, I would take them!

So I drove over to her place to pick them up and bring them to their new home. She had told me to just walk around to the garden because she'd be out there working when I came by. So I did.

I love walking through her gardens. They are full of serendipity and surprise; the kind that causes a beauty-induced ache in my chest that only nature can inspire. I found her digging about her lamb's ear bed. I took a quick look around at the amazing menagerie of flora that surrounded me. And I immediately began the rapid-fire brain process of plant identification making note of where she had each one planted in relation to the sun and its neighbors--gardener-type stuff.

Then I noted that she had a variety of dahlias peeking up in random places throughout the other plants. And I also noted that her dahlias were standing up straight. A wave of "gardener envy" washed over me. It always happens. I think every gardener experiences it. I always find the one thing I don't have in my own garden when looking at someone else's garden and then mentally flog myself about it. So silly.

Since that day I've been finding my mind wandering back to the fact that my dahlias never stand up straight. Every time I pass by them in the front garden, I think about it. I look at them. Why are their green necks curved and serpentine instead of regally straight? It is a dahlia conundrum that I am too embarrassed to ask my friend about for fear that she will judge me as inept when it comes to raising dahlias properly.

For the next couple of days I would avoid looking at them when I was sitting on the front porch or when I was digging about them to plant the 3 foot high sunflower seedlings my friend gave me. I just couldn't bear thinking about it one more time.

Finally, today I couldn't stand it anymore. I went and got one of my metal plant stakes out of the garden bin on the porch, stuck it in the ground at the base of the offending dahlia under the Blue Ribbon rosebush and wired the bending stems to the rigid green pole. There! At least it looks like it's standing up straight now.

And the other offender that is in the brick flower bed under the front window that has already bloomed? I cut it off.

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