My good luck began this spring with a three-year-old thoroughbred named Justify. I was smitten the first moment I saw the beautiful chestnut-colored horse walk onto the Churchill Downs track for a short gallop. I knew right away, early in the morning, two days before the Derby, where I was headed with my bet. I put Justify on top, followed by second and third place finishers, and won the Trifecta.

Don’t begrudge me. I’m entitled to a winning Derby Trifecta once in a lifetime.

Justify went on to win the Preakness and the Belmont to claim horse racing’s Triple Crown. I didn’t press my betting luck at the Preakness and Belmont.

Luck can carry you only so far.

The self-seeding Aquilegia canadensis ‘Pink Lanterns’ on May 8th, a few days after the Derby.

Gardening is not so different. There have been beautiful days in Kentucky this spring when our garden approached epiphany, but they were scarce; yet the miserably hot days didn’t discourage me—too much. April was the coolest April on record; May was the hottest. June has been hotter than May. I’m surprised I’ve enjoyed this spring as much as I have.

My luck has held.

My back hasn’t gone out, and I haven’t gotten eaten alive by chiggers.

Sedum pulchellum on a rock wall on May 27th in Salvisa, KY. Talk about drought tolerant!

Spring growth was phenomenal.  Friends have made similar observations. We wondered if we’d somehow lucked out. We weren’t sure if what we were seeing was real. It was like we all saw a flying saucer at the same time.

I’m not sure if this season’s luscious growth on trees, shrubs and perennials can be quantified. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve still got the memory of a winning ticket. (And for the record: I didn’t see a flying saucer, but I’m still looking.)

We had rain when we needed it, sometimes too much, but our little trees and shrubs, planted over the last few years, shot up with steadfast determination.

A newer lady’s mantle, Alchemilla sericata ‘Gold Strike’, held up well in the May and June heat. May 22nd.

All of this is in spite of dangerous signs politically, culturally and environmentally. Maybe my good luck was a coincidence?

I try not to dwell on bad news. It’s a chaotic and disturbing, time but I’m taking a long, optimistic view on the future.

I’m good with a little compunction. It won’t hurt, and, if you buy in, you won’t want to contribute to a Political Action Committee (PAC) to peddle influence.

The sweet-scented, fringed blooms of Dianthus arenarius ‘Little Maiden’ on June 6th.

But if Swamp issues and a muggy July do get you down, the next best suggestion is to watch the Marx Brothers. My friend Pat Cullina recently reminded me of one of Groucho Marx’s great lines from “Duck Soup,” in which Groucho played the comically despotic Rufus T. Firefly:

“… I’ll put my foot down, so shall it be… this is the land of the free! The last man nearly ruined this place he didn’t know what to do with it. If you think this country’s bad off now, just wait till I get through with it! The country’s taxes must be fixed, and I know what to do with it. If you think you’re paying too much now, just wait till I get through with it! I will not stand for anything that is crooked or unfair. So everyone beware—if anyone’s caught taking graft and I don’t get my share, we stand ‘em up against the wall and pop goes the weasel…”

Where does this leave me?

I need to return to more Marx Brothers movies, and I promise to vote. I will also try to be kind to my neighbors and garden like there will be a better tomorrow. I don’t ask for much. Free elections with a huge turnout, a lot more respect for human decency, stronger communities and a proliferation of environmentally friendly dirt-grubbing Garden Rant-loving gardeners would suit me fine.

My favorite June-flowering shrub, bottle-brush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, on June 14th.

My tomatoes are growing fast and look good. I had my first, fresh tomato yesterday. It was cracked and gnarly but mighty tasty. The inevitable onslaught of fungal and blight problems hasn’t begun.

The Japanese beetles and hollyhock rust are in a horse race to see which one can defoliate my hollyhock leaves first. I can’t think of much I can do, or really want to do, to get rid of either.

The butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow”, on June 19th.

It’s been way too hot the last few weeks.

There is so much to worry about.

Maybe it’s time to make another bet.

The corn top’s not ripe, but the meadow’s in the bloom. Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, on June 24th.

The smart money is on Thickening Weeds.

I’m leaning toward a Trifecta bet full of long shots. I’ve got a ridiculous hunch about Cool Breezes, Soaking Rains and Joyous Moments.

I can guarantee a good summer if all three hit the tote board.

Wish me luck.