by Jenny

By Kay Comer, garden expert, blogger, and 'Old woman with a bouquet'.

We have a sign in our secret garden that says "If you long for a mind at rest and a heart that cannot harden, go find a gate that opens wide into a secret garden.”

old woman with a bouquet

We're very blessed to have a beautiful 2 1/2 acre ‘secret garden’ that is home to many paths, herbs, grasses, blooms, birdhouses, old signs and flea market decor. And I love that old secret garden and walking those paths - but when I think of gardening, the part that gives me the most joy is my many huge cutting gardens.

All of my seed comes from American Meadows and I buy my Zinnia seed by the pound. I love the big mix of Dahlia-Flowered Zinnias for their height and size, but I have to admit that I don’t like the pink it includes! Pink doesn’t work with my color scheme - so I also buy the Lava Lamp to give me a ton of brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. I always order extra Cherry Red - as I love to have patches of Cherry Red, Canary Yellow and Purple Prince around our valley.

zinnia garden
butterfly in zinnia garden

Zinnias have been my favorite flower since I was a little girl. Growing up in the 1940's and 50's, we had a big family conglomeration under one roof on my Grandpa and Granny Anderson's old homestead, similar to The Walton's. (That story is a story in itself.)

But Granny had the most beautiful secret garden with a mixture of zinnias, hollyhocks, sunflowers, and corn stalks - the whole works. It was growing up in that setting with gardens and paths, my parents, grandparents, sisters, and 2 aunts and uncles that set me on this journey to becoming the old-soul gardener that I am today.

Old Woman With A Bouquet

One day last July, I was out working in one of our cutting gardens, cutting buckets of flowers to take to my garden table. Every week, I put together my bouquets to have both inside and outside of our home.

I was standing there looking at all the literally thousands of blooms and I just thought to myself "WOW what a shame that we have all of these blooms and no one ever sees them but us."

Kay's Favorite Zinnia Seeds:

My mind began to wander (as my mind is prone to do,) and the next thing I knew while working that very day in that very cutting garden - I began dreaming of a project that I decided to call "Old Woman With A Bouquet."

Right that minute, I went to the garden shed and dug out a huge old container. I washed and dried it and put my magic concoction in it to make the blooms last (sugar, seltzer and water,) and I just started filling that big old jar with the zinnia blooms that I had already cut.

Next I added some Tansy, Sweet Annie, 2 or 3 kinds of mints - and I even cut the tops off of some of our tall grass stems to add some good height and character. I thought it needed a calling card of sorts, so I went out in the edge of the woods and just picked up a spindly stick about 16 inches long and made a note on a piece of brown paper bag that said:

"From an Old Woman With A Bouquet. You Are Loved!"

It was absolutely beautiful! I got my camera and took a few photos while I thought about who to give the bouquet to. I decided on a spry 78 year old friend who lives about a mile from us, who still works full time as a home health-care sitter.

Zinnia bouquet

Mind you I was dirty from head to foot, but I brushed myself off - set my big jar in a dishpan, and tucked towels around it so it wouldn't spill in the car. I headed to my friend’s house with my big, blooming surprise. She was absolutely over joyed and her eyes just filled with tears.

I came back home and wrote a story on my facebook page about my new project: "Old Woman With A Bouquet.” I added some photos of the bouquet and of my friend receiving the bouquet, and that post just about went viral!

People were asking if they could order a bouquet to be delivered to their elderly loved one. And what was going to be a one day project quickly turned into a weekly thing that lasted the rest of the summer. All bouquets were given away - just to lift someone else - up.

Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, the Old Woman With a Bouquet will be on the move again this year - and I can't wait!

It really is true - there' s just no better exercise for our hearts - than bending down to lift someone else up. And every single thing in our lives today - both in mine and yours - will someday be a memory. So we need to do what we can to make each day special - and not just for ourselves, but for others as often as we can.

What do you think – can you be an Old Woman With a Bouquet for your community this summer?

Kay Comer is a 70-year old holistic health and wellness advocate and old-soul-flea-market-gardener who lives with her husband of 50+ years in their 5-acre valley they call 'Round Knob Canyon' in Southern Illinois. Kay and daughter Kim Jackson are passionate about using their website, to educate, inspire and make a difference in as many lives as possible.

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