Today’s post isn’t so much a rant as it is a whine. Pacific Northwest gardeners have raised whining about the weather to a high art. Ours is a seasonal lamentation second only to complaining when summer turns too warm. Call us delicate snowflakes – which brings up yet another weather-related weak spot – we simply want what the rest of you have. Well, not the hurricanes or tornadoes – you can keep those. Not the wicked humidity or epic cold, that would be unthinkable to endure. Still, would it kill the weather gods to grant us a bit of warmth? Nearly all of my very special zinnia seedlings succumbed to recent cold weather and I’m not happy about it. Oh, how I was looking forward to those remarkable unicorn pastels introduced by Floret Farm (who graciously gifted me the seed).

Floret seed packets

Just look at those colors.

I carefully sowed the seed in trays under lights in my garden room. Germination was extraordinarily swift and strong — my excitement grew. I fussed over the seedlings, kept them well hydrated, and ruffled the young plants with my hand to stiffen their spine. I was raising my best botanical youngsters.

We had a stretch of warm weather in early May, the seedlings were hardened off and ready to take their place on the garden’s stage. Then I fell and broke my elbow. I’ve since discovered that life is nearly impossible to navigate without my left arm (and I’m right-handed!) Sure, I worried about deadlines and practical day-to-day living, but mostly I fussed over my zinnias, waiting in the wings and ready to transplant.

Thankfully, after hearing me lament (okay, whine) about my dilemma, my dear friend Debra stopped by one afternoon and transplanted my seedlings into the garden; fortunately, the bed was already prepped and ready. Deb is the founder of the Slow Flowers Society, a community dedicated to supporting American grown flowers, the good farmers who grow them, and gifted designers who celebrate local, seasonal blooms. I felt supported and loved by a fellow flower lover who shares my fascination with backyard blooms.

However, in my excitement to get the plants into the garden I failed to consider that May can be a fickle in a Pacific Northwest garden. Warm and balmy one day, chilly and cold the next. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much how June rolls too. Now, it’s true that the past couple of years have proven to be an exception with unseasonably warm weather and an early summer, even a dastardly heat-dome event that saw the mercury rise to 107 in late June. *sigh* more whining, lots more whining.

The following weeks were colder and wetter than the typically cool days of what was once “normal” for this far northwest corner of the country. Distracted by navigating life with one arm, I didn’t give much thought to how my heat-loving transplants were faring. Spoiler alert: they weren’t. Even though the days grew longer – dusk at 9:30 these days – and gradually warmer, my young zinnias shriveled and crisped as their roots wasted away in the cold soil. After months of coddling, and even with heroic intervention, I was bereft at the loss of my very special plants. And believe me, I wasn’t shy about telling anyone who would listen.

Earlier in the spring I shared some of my Floret seed packets with a garden friend to add to her own purchases and she had produced a crop of robust zinnia seedlings in her swoon-inducing greenhouse. Driving past her house the other day and seeing her newly transplanted starts standing bravely in her front garden I had to stop and tell my sad story once again. She immediately offered me a flat of “extra” transplants that she couldn’t fit into her garden. I not going to lie, I kinda knew she would, all good gardeners are generous.

germinating seeds

5 days later

Last weekend, once again I sowed the last of my precious seed under lights in the basement. As before, germination has been strong. Gardeners get used to starting over, beginning again. But my greatest yield of this choice crop has already come in and it looks like garden friends who share my love of growing who show up to help make that happen even when life, and bones, and chilly weather get in the way.