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Life in a Garden with Mary Rankin

“Life begins the day you start a garden.” - Chinese Proverb


We give flowers in the form of bouquets as a symbol of condolence, congratulations, and love. We admire lawns from afar on our neighborhood walks. We stop and smell the roses. Gardening is one of those gifts in life that keeps on giving and connects people to not only the environment, but also to each other. Flowers are a great way to show someone that you care and are something that can be passed from one friend to another, or on from one generation to the next. Ninety-one year-old Mary Rankin has been into gardening from a young age. Her mother was a gardener who loved to plant pansies. “When I was two or three years old, I sat on her pansies. I guess that’s what got me into gardening!” she says. Now, aside from loving pansies as well, Mary has several favorite flowers. A few of her preferred blooms to note are orchids, violets, and tree peonies. “Ordinary peonies die every year, but tree peonies grow on last year’s stems.” She also loves osteospermum, which look similar to a daisy but come in various beautiful hues of blues, purples, and pinks instead of just your ordinary white daisy.

Mary spends quite a bit of time in her garden, stating, “I’m out there every day that it’s sunny out for a couple hours in the morning and a couple in the afternoon.” She spends significantly more time in the garden during the springtime getting all of her flowerbeds ready. Not only does she tend to her own large garden, but Mary has also been a member of Garden Club for about 40 years, joining before retiring from teaching art. Perhaps it is the artist in her that loves the differing colors and textures that flowers have to offer. As a member of the Garden Club, she helps plan the gardens around her village as well as planting and weeding them. Mary is particularly excited about the new hanging “Aqua Pots” planters that are replacing the hanging flower baskets in the village. “We’ve gotten Aqua Pots that have a reservoir to hold the water for the gigantic petunias in them.”

Whether it be time spent alone with your flowers, sharing what you’ve grown with others, or participating in a club that grows them together, gardening is something that can create long-lasting memories for everyone to enjoy for years to come. Just take Mary’s Coral Bells that came from Pennsylvania years ago, for example. “They were given to me when we lived in Williamsport by a friend when my first daughter was about two or three years old.” After being planted in Pennsylvania, the Coral Bells then traveled to Ohio and now New York. Coral Bells are a perennial that last a long time. They continue to grow, and you can separate them to make new plants, which is just what Mary has done. She’s given them to her daughters, friends, and even the flower beds she takes care of for Garden Club. “Everybody has some!”

If you’re looking for a new hobby to bring you some joy, give gardening a try…and if you’re looking for Mary, you’ll find her in her garden!

Tips to keep your garden blooming!

Daffodils / Hyacinths / Magnolia / Weeping Cherry / Old Fashioned Primrose: Perennials that are a bulb typically bloom in April. “All of these are blooming in my garden early Spring!” - Mary

Cone Flowers: Perennial, sometimes called a bi-annual, grow one year and sometimes flower 3-4 years and then die out. They are self-sowing so you can get a lot if you don’t dig them up; they bloom all summer starting in late July/August.

Dahlias: Blooming later on around August, you have to dig them up or they will freeze if left in the ground. They can be used over and over.

Tree Peony: These perennials will bloom in late April/early May.

Lilies: These are a bulbous plant that bloom year after year, typically in June. Some may bloom earlier than others.

Violets: Indoor year-round plants, these can be propagated by cutting the leaves off and potting them to get new violets.

Mary's Favorite Flower List

Petunias: An annual that you should buy early in the season; they will bloom all summer long.

Gerbera Daisies: This annual blooms with bright and cheerful colors.

Rieger Begonias: Annual tuberous begonia hybrids need cooler temperatures.

Tuberous Begonias: These have big flowers with a bulb, and if you save it inside and let it dry out to plant again, it will come back for a few seasons.

Snapdragons: An annual that self-sows, their seeds pop out all around.

Poppies: “There are perennial poppies that are huge, but I have some poppies that I call peony poppies that are an annual.” -Mary

Hostas: A perennial that spreads out with lots of different shapes of leaves and coloring, growing tall spiked flowers in the middle of summer.

Dianthis: These perennials self-sow.

Laurens Signature Cocktail

The secret to this beautifully vibrant cocktail is Butterfly pea flower tea. You can make it just as you would a normal tea, adding the cocktail ingredients to it in a separate glass for an aesthetically pleasing color-changing cocktail or just infuse the tea right into the tequila at the start. Add an edible flower on top to make this cocktail complete!

• 2 oz Tequila

• 3/4 oz. Lime Juice

• 3/4 oz Agave or Honey

• 1 oz Butterfly Pea Flower Tea


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