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Petunias, Politics, and Puppies

September 14, 2016


Petunias, Politics, and Puppies:


Ponderings of the Last Week of Summer, 2016


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



As Mother Nature turns the Midwest air cooler, blows some dry leaves off her precious trees, swipes minutes from each day to give to the night, reminds us of the seasonal changes to come–I have been pondering this hot summer of 2016.  What are the first three words that come into your mind about the summer that is speedily slipping away?  Petunias, politics, and puppies are the words that swam into my mind.  Thus, this Wordwalk blog post will touch on three different topics which I meld together.  (Even if you want to skip the politics part, I should let you know in advance that the politics portion of this essay is an unusual poem, followed by a little puppy talk.


Each summer, pink, lavender, purple, and/or white petunias graced our large front porch in Blanford, Indiana.  Although I have never planted petunias in my container gardens, the gentle, even floppy, petunias are such a part of the picture in my mind of our Hoosier home.  Along with these flared-skirted flowers, my mother planted a few different types of marigolds and sometimes reddish-orange geraniums.  Near the northeast corner of our fence grew the climbing sweet peas.  Midway along the east fence was a substantial patch of irises.  Down the once-upon-a-time alley that led to the old coal mine were “Seven-sister Roses” that grew in abundance before a raspberry bush.  Forming a mild divider between the large east lawn and the yard directly in front of our front porch were bushes of peonies.  (In the 1950s and 1960s, all of my aunts and many others in our small community had peonies–a flouncy, picturesque bunch of blossoms.  Before the final addition to our house, lilies-of-the-valley clung pertly to the east side of our house.  How I did love these little, bell-shaped flowers!  Before the shanty was torn down, hollyhocks decorated its east side.  To the west of the white-rock driveway was my circular flower garden, primarily of gladioli, along with some daffodils.  When our wooden front porch was removed for the new and even bigger cement front porch (in 1957), my dad transplanted the spirea from in front of the porch to the north border of our yard that was west of the driveway.  In later years, I transplanted wild violets around the old pump at the southwest corner of our Hoosier home.  Other than the bees that frequented the dandelions, I had no objection to these little gold blossoms that gave color to our green grass–real green grass, not the roll-out variety of grass that covers so many lawns today.


While living at my current residence, I have found the joy of container gardening.  For a number of years, pink and white geraniums have been my favorite flowers to nurture in my containers.  However, this year has been the absolute best year for Gerbera daisies.  Too often, I have had blooms on Gerberas only twice or three times during the season although the leaves make pretty plants through early autumn.  On the other hand, this year, my Gerbera daisies have bloomed continuously:  I have had three to five blooms at a time, per container.  While the first pink and yellow blooms were single-petaled, later blooms have been double-petaled.


Since we always had a rosemary plant near the well on the east side of our Blanford home and most of my relatives had rosemary plants to spice up their cooking, I continue with this traditional rosemary plant which, of course, has a marvelous fragrance.  Once again, I have two basil “trees”:  I use the word “trees” because I enjoy growing tall basil plants from the wee ones.  Unfortunately, this year has not been a good year for my basil plants in the wind.  The basil tree in the back of my townhouse has fallen over seven times–thanks to the high wind gusts; the basil tree on my front porch has a score of only six falls.  Amazingly, these basil plants persist–despite a lost limb or two.  My lovely purple sage plant gracefully grows and must wonder why the basil keeps making a nose-dive in the wind.  Well, larger containers are in the plans for next summer’s basil trees.  I find nothing more calming than working in my container garden.  Although I always try to maintain my geraniums until about Thanksgiving, as Mother Nature grabs summer away from us Midwesterners, I will too soon miss fussing over my container garden.


Speaking of fussing, the political scene has certainly been a part of this summer of 2016 and will persist throughout Mother Nature’s fall.  Considering this most unusual political cycle, I share with you the following very short poem.



P Is for Pickle


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



P is for …











pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey–or elephant,


Politickle, polipickle

pending, pending–not ending until November 8.


* * *


Putting aside the politics, I emphasize that the best and most memorable parts of my summer of 2016 were meeting my fourth Leader Dog, training successfully with Willow, welcoming her to her new home on June 24, wonderfully walking with her each day, and sharing one blessed summer with her.  From March 16 to June 7, I was dogless.  Being dogless is, for me, extremely hard and horrible.  Thus, I cannot fully express how grateful I am that I have enjoyed a Willow summer and look forward to many, many seasons with my amazing fourth Leader Dog.


Coincidentally, today was the grand opening of the Canine Development Center at Leader Dog School (Rochester, Michigan).  This magnificent new addition to Leader Dogs for the Blind is truly state-of-the-art as a kennel complex.  To read more about the Canine Development Center, see photos of this new facility, and watch a related video–please visit the website:



Happy last week of summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


September 14, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Dear Alice,
    Just as you have a way with words, you also have a way with your garden. Through the years, your geraniums have been among the most beautiful I have ever seen and certainly more lovely than any I have tried to grow in Colorado. Your basil “trees” are a sight to behold with a delicious fragrance! I was especially happy to reminisce about the wonderful flowers we enjoyed every spring and summer at our beloved Indiana home. As always, thank you for reviving that picture in my memory.
    Love to you and Willow (a welcomed and wonderful addition to our family),

    • Mary–Luckily, our Blanford gardens and my container garden have never experienced the ravages of hail as your flower gardens in Colorado sometimes have. Wishing you luck with your 2017 flower gardens–A & W

  2. Fran Rayce permalink

    Hi Alice,

    I am constantly amazed at your wonderful recall of places and events from days past, (I wanted to say long ago, but that seemed to age us all). You paint such a vivid picture with your apt descriptions and attention to detail. I felt as though I was there in your yard and loved noting the similarities between your Blanford yard and those of other nearby communities. I couldn’t help but remember the “pinies”, (peonies to most folks) that my Nonna grew in abundance and cut to take to the cemeteries for Decoration Day, as we then called Memorial Day. I loved the extravagance of those blossoms!

    Your poem was such fun; dancing words with a fun ending!
    Love, Fran

    • Hi, Fran–Thanks for your interesting comment. Oh, yes, we always called the extravagant blossoms “pinies” and would have been surprised by someone’s pronouncing the name of the flower as “peonies.” While the lavish blossoms made bountiful bouquets for Memorial Day, my mother would never let us take the flowers in the house–due to the accompanying ants.

      Since I debated about using the poem as part of a blog post, I especially appreciated your noting that you liked the short poem.

      Enjoy this September weekend–Alice and Willow

  3. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–As always, enjoyed reading this week’s post. Of course, you can’t write too much about Willow for my taste, and I’m always ready to read your descriptions of flowers and plants, but this week’s highlight for me was the “P” poem. Except for the weather that comes with it, I can’t wait for Nov. 8 to be here and gone.–Sue

    • Sue–Since I debated with myself about posting the “P” poem on my blog after writing the poem on August 19, I especially appreciate reading your comment about this short poem.

      Have a good weekend–Alice and Willow

  4. Alice.
    Once again, you have painted a colored picture extraordinaire. I would love to be able to see your daisies, and I can see the smile on your face as you and Willow Girl head down the sidewalks of your neighborhood.
    The bees are busy, gathering what they can before autumn tightly grabs hold of the summer winds.
    Great post, once again!

    • Deon–Thanks for your nice comment! Well, our strong summer winds have bowed to the fog this night and brought no promised rain nor storms. Thus, with no help from Mother Nature, I will need to water my container garden in the morning.

      Enjoy this September weekend–Alice and Willow

  5. P is for a positively pleasant psalm to the passing of the petunia season. I loved reading about your container gardens – they sound so lovely. Do you put anything in them for winter or Christmas? I can envision them as a stunning display of lights and magic for Haloween and Christmas and even St. Valentine’s day, too!

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