My grandmother’s garden had always been populated with all sorts of flowers, wisely planted in order to enjoy their blooming alternately for nearly the whole year. For a long time, due to my travelling from one country to the other, the ups and downs of life and mostly the lack of space, I was happy with bunches of flowers and some rare pot plant now and then, never giving up, however, the dream of my own garden, one day. Then, I moved to a small house in the countryside with still no garden, but a terrace and stairs, large and long enough to keep a dozen of long boxes and pots.
I wasn’t sure whether the place was suitable for the flowers I wanted to grow, if there was sufficient, but not too much sun and no water shortage in July/August. Everything turned out to be perfect and it was fantastic to see around my house lots of shining columbines, dahlias, marguerites, marigolds, nasturtiums, pinks and snapdragons from spring to late summer already this very first year.
Obviously I preserved the seeds and the following spring, once spread without any growing plan, I passed my time observing tiny greens sprouting and turning into healthy, strong, blooming flowers. A fulfilling and stunning experience!
Spoilt by the success of my project and the intense colors making my meals on the terrace even more enjoyable, I was wondering how I could extend this great pleasure. That’s when the completely forgotten zinnia seeds I had bought the year before returned into my mind. It was August, surely too late to sow them. May/June would have been the right moment and everybody, in fact, dissuaded me from my idea. I decided to give it a try anyway and after a few weeks the soft, superlight seeds had turned into ninety centimeter tall, strong plants with plenty of buds ready to open and show the well protected inside. By now it was early October and grateful for the warm temperatures, I moved the pots every morning and afternoon to the sunniest spots letting the stems, leaves and buds absorb the heat from each and every sun beam I could get hold of. Every day, I walked down the stairs welcoming and caressing the plants gently. One by one, the heads opened and transformed the terracotta stairs into a flourishing paradise. While the autumn season was just about to paint everything with brown, red and yellow tints, the zinnias where shining in gaudy summer-orange, white and shades of pink.
November has brought the first chill, rain and little sun, but my zinnias are still standing bright and proud. I can feel them whispering “Thanks for loving us” and then, but I’m not sure “… but would you mind sowing us a little earlier next year?” I definitely will!
Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany