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I discover the power of flowers

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Or years, I listened to my friends talk about their love of gardening in tones that came close to rapture.

"Did you see the hydrangeas Kate put in?" my friend Connie would ask me. "She added a special fertilizer to the soil so they'd be more blue-purple than rose-pink on the edges." Um. No. I missed that, I'd mumble in reply.

The truth was, I could not have cared less about Kate's hydrangeas, or Carla's rose trellis, or Maria's high-risk forcing of paperwhite narcissus bulbs. I knew that my friends were capable of devouring a seed catalog as if it were a Danielle Steel page-turner. I was aware that they kept 30-pound oversize books with catchy titles such as "The English Garden," and "Flowers" on their coffee tables. And that they actually read them.

But gardening just wasn't for me. It was too dirty, for one thing. Too solitary, for another. Often too hot. And the gratification was delayed, sometimes for months.

As leisure-time activities went, I was a quick-fix kind of girl: a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a cup of decaf cappuccino with a friend, and I was on my way.

But something started to change me. It began when we decided to build a new patio in our backyard. The flagstone space turned out beautifully but cried out for landscaping. I reluctantly jotted "Stop by Tony's Nursery" on my to-do list. In the meantime, I thought it wouldn't hurt to glance at some of the gardening magazines for ideas. Two hours later, I was still poring over pieces with names like "How to Turn Your Backyard Into a Garden of Eden," and "Picture-Perfect Borders: What Every Patio Needs."

By the time I got to Tony's, I was even feeling a little excited. I collapsed the back seat of my station wagon and filled it with silver lace vines, a few rose bushes, a couple of spirea, dusty millers, a few flats of perennials, a window box, and enough salmon-pink geraniums to fill it. Plus peat moss, mulch, fertilizer, and ergonomically-correct gardening tools.

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