I LOVE pink tea roses. If I ever draw a flower, it’s probably going to be a tea rose of some sort. When I first moved to Indiana almost 20 years ago after meeting my hubby on an online dating site (that was new and exciting back then, lol), one of the first things I did was to go to a nursery and get some gorgeous high-quality, pricey Jackson & Perkins rose bushes. I took them home, carefully planted them exactly according to the instructions on the hang tag, even bought a J&P rose book and read up, then babied them. Then the Japanese Beetles ate them. All of them. And everything else I planted.
In addition to my grand experiment with the J&P roses, I had prepared a two-foot dirt border all around the front of our 2,000 square foot modular. That meant I had to hand dig out all of that stubborn grass and soften the rocky sandy soil to prepare a flower bed…with an old shovel and hoe. We didn’t have the finances at that time, being newly married, to purchase other gardening equipment that would have made the whole process much easier.
I checked out books from the library, extensively researched what trees, bushes and flowers did best in our climate zone in Indiana, and carefully hand drew out on art paper, in color, the types of flowers, bushes and border – according to color and height – that would create the prettiest effect. I went to several stores and nurseries, looked into ordering bulbs, perennials and annuals in magazines and online, and even considered the intriguing idea of planting an attractive edible garden instead in the border area.
After carefully mapping everything out, researching, shopping trips, etc., I had my seeds, planted everything, carefully watered them, kept and eye on them, and waited. And waited. And waited,
Finally! Little green sprouts began to appear.
I was so excited! My very first flower bed!
But something was wrong. Very, very, very wrong.
Five sprouts came up.
That wasn’t right.
I didn’t plant five.
I planted 35.
What on earth? (Sorry, no pun intended.)
Well, as it turns out, we lived out in the country, right across the street from a low line of hills with lots of forest. We also live in very richly soiled farmland, surrounded by working family farms and fields – soybeans, hay, and corn are the usual crops.
There are little slender paths leading down that hill across the street, through the trees, through the tall grass where it’s parted on either side, down through the dirt and in a straight line to our house…several of them.
At daybreak and dusk each day, the deer and critters made their journey out of the woods, down the hill, crossed the street into our yard, went through our yard and out into the surrounding fields to eat the standing and fallen corn, soybeans and hay.
We often got possums and raccoons on the back porch, saw deer eating the fallen apples in the back yard, endured cardinals hitting our windows in the throws of hormonally enraged territorial-ism, listened to doves gently cooing, speckled starlings noisily squabbling, robins alertly standing in the grass looking for worms, watched bunnies, squirrels and chipmunks dashing through the grass searching for fallen walnuts and other edible items. All this is to say that our garden, or flower bed, didn’t stand one heck of a chance from the get go. And that wasn’t even throwing the myriad of diverse bugs into the pest equation.
Yes, I KNEW I would have to deal with pests. I read up on that aspect of it. What I hadn’t figured on were the overwhelming odds stacked against me and my poor flowers.
Every single morning, I impatiently came out to check on my seeds and bulbs to see if they had sprouted. I waited, and I waited, and I waited. And, nothing came up. When something finally did come up, it was five out of 35. There was something very wrong with that number.
I had also purchased plastic pots for the porch in varying sizes and colors..carefully panning those out as well, according to which colors and sizes would look best placed in specific places around the porch, as well as which flowers would look loveliest according to color and height, as well as sun- or shade-hardiness.
I came out one morning to find several of the pots turned over with fresh dirt and my precious baby flowers strewn haphazardly all over my porch .
I was NOT a happy camper! What. On. Earth?
I angrily and frustratedly replaced the dirt, gently tucked my poor stricken flowers back into their beds, and hoped and prayed they weren’t all too dead to revive and survive.
I came out the next morning very hopefully and found….the same exact scenario.
And the next morning,
And the next.
After an awful lot of fussing, loud complaining, griping and grumbling to my patient husband, we came to the conclusion it was either the possums, raccoons, squirrels or chipmunks looking for seeds and bulbs. The smell of freshly turned dirt got their attention from miles away, and down the hill they obligingly trundled to make a meal out of what I had so carefully, but inadvertently prepared for them.
After the critters, the harsh sun on the front porch, and the bugs, I gave up. I’m not stupid. I know some folks are die-hard seasoned gardeners, but I’m not one of those. I didn’t think doing a flower bed was going to be such a dramatic, anti-climactic activity. It’s supposed to be “relaxing.” And, after all that, I certainly wasn’t feeling “relaxed.” Not about any of it.
My naive dreams of beautiful flowers and roses died a very hard and practical death in that short span of time. Between the harsh, hot summer sun, the bugs, the critters and the birds, I knew I was outgunned. I’m not stupid. Sometimes, ya gotta know when to say “when.”
There are some things in life we are good at, and some things we aren’t, and I obviously wasn’t good at this one, lol. I knew better than to try to fight off all of nature….especially when we lived out in the country in farmland. We were basically just a critter buffet waiting to happen.
Ok, back to the roses and the reason for this post…. I’m sorry, I bunny-trailed (see what I did there?).
I created the above illustration as a black and white coloring page for my friends adult coloring group on Facebook. I liked it so well, I had to give it a try, too.
I am NOT a colorist. Everyone in the adult coloring community probably knows this by now, lol. However, I surprised the heck outta myself by being able to do this one this well. I’m absolutely THRILLED. I just HAD to share it with the whole wide world!!!
I colored it using “pastels” on my iPad Pro, with an Apple Pencil in Procreate.
I like the digital version so well, I may just break down and pull out my real live pastels and give it a try, too.
This image is available in my Etsy shop as a digitally downloadable jpg file in both color and b&w in b&w lineart or grayscale for use as an adult coloring page or to use for scrapbooking and papercrafting.