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While I was Busy Looking at the Skies, All My Flowers Died

     Last week while I was busy looking at all that stuff up in the sky, all my flowers died. Well, not all of them – just my favorites, the Nemesias with their slender green leaves (now brown) and delicate white flowers (now brown) that sometimes surprise you by turning an unexpected pale strawberry-lavender color, and that always please you with the gentle scent of warm vanilla.

     I thought I knew every single rule there is for amateur gardeners. Feed the plants, spray the bugs, pull the weeds, trap the gophers, prune the old growth, water exactly as instructed – and it helps a whole lot if you plant them in the right place in the first place, with the right amount of sun or shade. I even know the rule about always know where the outside water shutoff valve is. But there was one rule I didn’t know.

     I planted the Nemesias about two years ago and until I got distracted by the sky last week, they were as healthy as the day I planted them. It wasn’t long after I planted them that they became my favorite of all the flowers in the yard.

     That’s because they smell so sweet and they keep growing and growing and growing, no matter what I forget to do, and bonus! They re-seed themselves regularly without being asked. But mostly they’re my favorites because - can you believe this? - weeds never grow up in their midst and they’ve never ever been attacked by bugs, which is unheard of in my entire gardening experience.

     Only a few days ago, the Nemesias were thriving, but when I took my head out of the sky and looked down, they were all dying. What happened?

     I checked more closely. No bugs. No weeds choking them out. No gopher holes nearby. The only thing that didn’t look quite right was the ground around them. It was kind of dry. I’d checked the sprinklers a week or so ago and they were working fine, but I figured I’d better check them again.

     I went to the control panel for the automatic sprinklers and turned on the zone where the Nemesias lay dying. Then I waited for the water to make its way from the manifold and spurt out of the sprinkler heads lined up along the bank. Nothing happened.  I waited a couple more minutes. Nothing happened.

     I set the sprinklers for a different zone – the one that covers the lawn - to see if that one worked. Without the least hesitation the sprinkler heads jumped up out of the grass and spewed forth great streams of water.

     I went back and set the zone for the Nemesias again - in case I’d pressed the wrong button. Nothing happened.

     Okay. What’s going on here?  I backtracked from the bank where the Nemesias weren’t being watered to the manifold. As I rounded the garage, I walked right into a lake.  A really muddy lake. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there last week. Not that I’d noticed. I bent over to see how deep it was and there in the middle of it, was a fat white pipe with water gushing out from all sides.

     Well, the lake is all dried up now and the pipe has been repaired. The Nemesias are soaking up gentle sprays of water, and I hope they’re gonna make it. And me - I’ve learned that one rule I didn’t know: You gotta keep your head out of the clouds. Plants do a whole lot better with a down-to-earth gardener.

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