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 LoveHomeAndHealth.com, to educate, inspire and make a difference in as many lives as possible.

  1. Zinnia Seeds Cut and Come Again Mix, Zinnia elegans

    Blooming in a rainbow of colors, the Cut and Come Again Mixture provides endless Zinnias from mid-summer all the way until frost, giving you plenty of blooms to cut and bring indoors...

    Learn More
    Zinnia Seeds Cut and Come Again Mix Cut and Come Again Zinnia Zinnia elegans
    As low as $9.95 Sale $9.45
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Blooming in a rainbow of colors, the Cut and Come Again Mixture provides endless Zinnias from mid-summer all the way until frost, giving you plenty of blooms to cut and bring indoors. Like all Zinnia, this mixture is extremely easy to grow, deer resistant and attracts pollinators to the garden. Can be grown in any region. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow. Annual.
  2. Zinnia & Cosmos Seed Combo

    We've put together two of our favorite annuals in our Zinnia and Cosmos Seed Combo. Plant this easy, vibrant flower duo for endless blooms from summer all the way until frost. You'll...

    Learn More
    Zinnia & Cosmos Seed Combo Zinnia & Cosmos Zinnia elegans & Cosmos bipinnatus
    $50.95 Sale $48.40
    Per 2 Pounds
    We've put together two of our favorite annuals in our Zinnia and Cosmos Seed Combo. Plant this easy, vibrant flower duo for endless blooms from summer all the way until frost. You'll enjoy visits from bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, along with plenty of flowers to cut for photo-worthy bouquets. This combo is for new gardeners and seasoned green thumbs alike: you just can’t go wrong with Zinnias and Cosmos! (Cosmos bipinnatus and Zinnia elegans)
  3. Confetti Zinnia Mix, Zinnia elegans Confetti Mix

    A mix of yellow, red, lime, purple, orange, and magenta zinnias for a bright and festive flower display! Enjoy these colorful flowers blooming right through frost in flowerpots, gard...

    Learn More
    Confetti Zinnia Seed Mix Confetti Zinnia Mix Zinnia elegans Confetti Mix
    As low as $39.95 Sale $37.95
    Per 1 Pound
    A mix of yellow, red, lime, purple, orange, and magenta zinnias for a bright and festive flower display! Enjoy these colorful flowers blooming right through frost in flowerpots, garden beds, or a meadow, and watch the parade of pollinators that join this flower fiesta. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow. Annual.
  4. Zinnia Seeds, Zinnia elegans

    Blooming from mid-summer until frost, Zinnias are some of the easiest wildflowers to grow, adding their bright, cheerful color to any sunny spot with enthusiasm. These beloved annua...

    Learn More
    Zinnia Seeds Zinnia Zinnia elegans
    As low as $12.95 Sale $12.30
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Blooming from mid-summer until frost, Zinnias are some of the easiest wildflowers to grow, adding their bright, cheerful color to any sunny spot with enthusiasm. These beloved annuals are deer resistant, long blooming and very prolific - the more you cut for bouquets, the more flowers your plants will produce. Best of all, they are a monarch butterfly magnet! All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
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