Nine Years Ago Today

Scilla blooming.

Nine years ago, it was snowing outside. Today, it is 80 degrees F.

Nine years ago, I held the soft, tender form of my youngest for the first time. Today, clad in a Life is Good t-shirt, blue jeans and navy blue Converse, she’s following me through yet another garden nursery trying not to roll her eyes. She drifts away, looking for a playground amidst the trays and flats of spring flowers.

I’m lost in a Viola reverie when she taps me on the shoulder and says “Can I have this plant?”

Dusty Miller
Dusty Miller

Her slightly grubby hands are clasped around a rust-colored, plastic container. Silvery blue foliage peeks out from the top. A Dusty Miller. I’m not surprised at her choice.

Just appalled.

She is always drawn to silver, drought resistant plants like Lamb’s Ears or Artemisia. Most of the time that’s great. Noble even, but not now.

Inside, I shudder. Something about this plant gives me the creeps; perhaps, because it always looks moldy to me. Before I open my mouth to say so, I catch her expression. I know it well. Her green eyes gaze at the Dusty Miller’s fuzzy, silver leaves with gardener love.

“Of course,” I say, “Where do you want to put it?” I’m thinking in the back of the back 40.

“In the front flowerbed so everyone will know it’s mine.” She skips away, and I hear, “I’ll need three. You should always plant in threes and fives.”

At home, I ask her if she needs help.

Nine years ago, she needed me for everything. Now, not so much.

“No thanks,” she says, as pulls my red-handled trowel out of the garden bucket. She digs three staggered holes in front of the Blue Dune Lyme Grass. My heart swells with pride as she squeezes the nursery containers and one by one rips the bottom roots of the plants. She hums a little tune as she works. She never looks up until the soil is patted around her babies.

“I need water,” she says, looking for the hose. I hand the sprayer to her and dial the nozzle for “Shower.” She waters in her plants and then proceeds to water the others too.

Dusty Miller with companions
The Dusty Miller look content in their new home.

“What do you think?” she asks, tossing the hose onto the grass.

“Great choice,” I say, and I mean it. The (dare I say it?) dusty, silver foliage against the blue grass will look wonderful this summer. By the way, the rebar in the photo is there to protect the new plants from our digging Collie, Mariah.

The three Dusty Millers stand stiff as soldiers at the front of the border. Every time I see them I’ll think about how Bear tucked them into their garden bed as sweetly as a mother tucking in a child.

Maybe I’ve raised one gardener after all. Happy Birthday, Bear.


  1. Hanako says:

    I’m such a weenie– I started crying as I read this. I’m 24 now, unmarried and not looking to become as much any time soon, but stories like this make me incredibly excited to one day becoming a mother myself. Really– I can’t wait to have kids. Lots of them. Seeing how a mother sees her child really strikes a chord in me, especially when a mother is able to find beauty and pride in the most unexpected places. I just hope that one day I will be able to share such beautiful and touching stories as this. Thank you.

    As a side note, my dad calls me “Bear,” so that totally upped the sob factor for me 😀

    I’m glad it touched your heart. I love that your dad calls you Bear.~~Dee

  2. Curtis says:

    What a great story. What lovely plants as well, of course I love dusty miller as well. I think I am a gardener today because my parents were gardeners.

    Curtis, neither of my parents gardened. My grandmother did. I’m glad you liked the story.~~Dee

  3. Diana says:

    What a sweet story and a lovely way to honor your daughter and her birthday. And good for you for letting her choose and be independent. Sometimes that’s really hard with our kids. My son (24) and my daughter (5) both like to garden and work in the yard and I love it when she waters in my new plants for me or when he comes and helps me plan and plant big projects. Isn’t it great to share your passion with someone you love?

  4. Lynde says:

    It is so wonderful that our gardening passions are passed along from one generation to the next. My mother is a passionate gardener who teaches me so much. This brought tears to my eyes as an emotional mother of twins who just turned 9. Every time we go to a nursery they too pick out something!

    Lynde, I thought of you and your twins. Lynde and I are cousins (by marriage) and we had babies together. I’m glad your mother teaches you about gardening. We all need a mentor.~~Dee

  5. Kathleen says:

    what a great story. I think my Mom wanted me to be a gardener too but I was never interested until I grew up, got married and had a yard of my own. something about pulling my own weeds didn’t seem to be as much of a “chore!” lol Lucky your daughter is catching the “bug” early!

  6. Trudi says:

    Lovely story for the diary, never forgotten, happy birthday and happy garden days for mother and daughter. Tell Bear I always liked Dusty Miller, I think the name is so cute!

  7. Gail says:

    A delightfully loving story only a mom could tell…so glad I decided to stop by…I think I am going to call my son.


  8. oh, I can’t wait for my bug to garden with me. As long as she never ever plants iris!

  9. Pam/Digging says:

    I don’t love dusty miller either, but I do love this post about you and your daughter and her obvious love of gardening. Beautifully written, Dee. P.S. I think our daughters would get along great.

  10. Frances says:

    Very enjoyable story, and with a very happy ending, or is it a beginning? You will have many happy years of garden sharing with your Bear. How nice that her birthday falls at the time of year when planting will always be done, spring is perfect time to have a birthday!

  11. Anthony says:

    Nice post! Now I want to go home and hug my kids. Although, if they picked out something for the garden beds, I’d have Webkinz and Fruit Roll-Ups in front of my house. 🙂

  12. Aiyana says:

    Great story. I plant Dusty Miller occasionally when I need some silvery accents against purple, red or yellow flowered plants. I’ve never thought about it before, but it does have a moldy look!

  13. Louise says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post and it must have been a great moment in time for you to watch your little girl planting, well not so little now she is another year older. Happy Birthday! She is so right to know to plant in 3s or 5s, she must have been listening all along. Is it common to call these plants Dusty Millers? I haven’t ever heard that expression being used over here in the UK? A lovely photo of the scillas too, I like to have lots of blue around my garden, this time of year is good for blues and purples. x

  14. deb says:

    What a sweet story. It is wonderful that you have it written down here. It sounds as if she is learning a lot from you. Happy Birthday Bear.

  15. Happy Birthday to Bear and congratulations to you, Dee, on finding a gardening friend right under your nose!

    Does your daughter also like lambs ears and silver pony’s foot?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  16. Brenda Kula says:

    And I tried my best to raise gardeners! They’re 29 and 33 now, and they just don’t get my passion for gardening. Maybe someday… By the way, I happen to like Dusty Miller. But then I like anything white or silver that glows in the moonlight. Tell your little gardener to go take a look once it’s dark. It will shine.

  17. Oh, Dee. How sweet and tenderhearted your story is. Thank you for sharing with us. Happy birthday, Bear!
    I have two dusty millers by my front porch, too! Dee, if you show her my latest post, she can see them. Tell her there is a new friend of Mommie’s in Northern California who is also a fan of that color. Kathryn xox

  18. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh give that Bear a hug for such a good job. A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAR. What fun to have your sweet little girl working in the garden with you. I remember those days of having busy hands helping in the garden. My daughter works her plot with her DB. AAaaahhhhhh such memories. Even my son likes to mow. Hmmmm I guess that is close enough. tee hee…. Iknow if he had his own plot there would be things planted as well. Thanks for stirring up all those memories. Enjoy your little darling while you can. These years pass so fast.

  19. Cinj says:

    How very sweet! Looks like you’re doing a great job of raising a gardener. Wish her a very happy birthday for us.

    Cinj, thank you, I will.~~Dee

  20. kerri says:

    Hello Dee, Thanks for visiting and saying hello 🙂
    Happy birthday to your little gardener!
    What a sweet story this is. She’s obviously well on her way to following in her mum’s footsteps.

    Kerri, you’re welcome. Love your blog. Oh, I hope she is. The other two don’t like it much, and they think I’m nuts. Of course, they’re teenagers.~~Dee

  21. Aunt Jo says:

    What a sweet and tender post! Happy Birthday to your baby.

    Thank you, Aunt Jo.~~Dee

  22. Brianna says:

    Oh! This is beautiful. I hope to share gardening with my son some day, too. And thanks for the reminder that they grow up so very, very fast.

    They do. My other two don’t like gardening much at all. They do like the flowers though.~~Dee

  23. Sherri says:

    Aw, how sweet. And also bittersweet, because my daughter is also 9 and doesn’t need me as much as she used to. *sigh*

    Happy birthday to your girl. 🙂

    Sherri, yes, the sweet is always tempered by the truth, isn’t it?~~Dee

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