Flowers, bulbs, and memories of Bob

Susan Manzke
Bob digging canna tubers October 2019.

As the world warms, the geraniums that wintered in the basement called to me. Though they haven't been touched all these many months, green leaves started popping out. This happened even without the addition of water.

Now the pots are outside, absorbing sunshine and rainwater.

We had saved four pots of geraniums last fall, Bob and I. They rested on the enclosed porch before heading to the basement, eking out a few additional flowers before their long sleep.

Four pots went down last fall, but only two have shown good growth. The other two are taking their time waking, at least I hope they will awake.

Also, in the basement were paper bags of spring tubers: cannas and dahlias. These were dug last October before the snow fell. Bob was outside with a garden fork and a shovel, helping me.

As I cut off the green stems, Bob started digging into our raised bed (a rusty water trough full of holes) for the tubers. Once in awhile his fork cut into a large canna tuber. We weren’t worried about the loss of a few tubers. The cannas had multiplied and grown over the summer, giving us plenty to rescue from the coming winter freeze.

There were many more cannas than dahlias in the basement this spring. The dahlias seemed to have shrunk over the last months, while the cannas seemed to have multiplied again.

Canna tubers returning to the raised beds in May 2020.

I am not fond of spring tubers. I’ve never liked the idea of digging a bed for them in the spring, only to dig them back up in the fall. Winter in Wisconsin would kill them otherwise.

I prefer perennials that return year after year or flowers that reseed themselves. I also love wild daisies that show up in ditches.

Working with Bob last fall seemed like an ordinary day for us. We were just doing a chore we had done before. Neither of us knew it would be the last time we dug the cannas up together.

Anyway, this past weekend, I brought the tubers that had rested all winter outside again and worked up the raised beds. I did this because of Bob, not because I love cannas.

It was Bob’s work last October that pushed me to plant them. I couldn’t let his last outside work go to waste.

These tubers now have a new life, or at least a good chance to bloom again.

My vegetable garden isn’t going to be much. I have potatoes planted, but not much else yet.

The potatoes we grew last year didn’t give us a big harvest, but I guess even some is more than none. Even if we had some that were small and others that were odd-shaped, they were all edible.

End of season yellow dahlia from 2019. Susan is hoping some of her dahlias return in 2020.

I had started tomatoes from seed at the end of this March, but they didn’t do very well, in fact, they died. I will go to a nearby greenhouse to fill their spot in another raised bed—I’ve never been very successful in raising plants from seeds. Either they grew too fast and became spindly or they didn’t survive.

I guess my luck with seed planting hasn’t changed. Even with Bob’s help, our seedlings had issues. Bob was more successful with seeds he planted in fields, not in flower pots.

My life is centered around the farmyard. I continue to shelter safely at home. Being at home doesn’t bother me. Even after bus trips around the country and a cruise to Alaska, Bob and I always came home, knowing this was our favorite place on earth.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;