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Courtesy of Betsy Magner
This sunflower was one of two that thrived in Betsy Manger’s yard.

Enjoy ‘God’s blessings’

Happy accidents sprout from odd gardening season

Sometimes, the best surprises are what the chipmunks don’t steal.

Betsy Magner’s family planted 40 sunflower seeds this year to go around their house, and all but two were poached by the little critters. She sent in a photo of her 9-year-old son with one of the 11-foot-6-and-growing survivors with its massive trunk and sunny face.

Betsy calls it God’s blessing and it reminds me of all the little blessings that make gardening fun. The things we plan aren’t always better than the things that are a wee bit out of control.

At Dirt Cottage, the biggest, tallest, reddest tulip in the spring is a wild beauty that stands alone, smack dab in the middle of the grass. Planted by a squirrel, I presume.

Every year, I carefully mow around the lone plant until the leaves are all brown, and every year I consider digging it up and moving it to the front bed where all of the obedient bulb babies reside.

But who am I to find serendipity?

As odd as this gardening season has been, I’m just going to go with the flow, enjoy the successes and ignore the flops.

If the normally stalwart pachysandra and ajuga groundcovers were a complete zero, the 3-foot garden phloxes were the best I’ve ever had. The tomatoes are still producing, and the squirrels have been denting my car with what seems to be a bumper crops of acorns.

Next year will be better, and I’ll keep saying that until it happens.

Send in that photo

Take a photo of your grandest garden mistake, favorite produce or prettiest posy.

Email your favorite photo as a JPEG attachment to

Please include your name, the name of any person or pet in the photo, type of plant, and the community where you live.

I’ll give them all a look and post one per person on The Journal Gazette’s gardening blog, “We’re Digging It.” Some of them might make it into The Dirt column.

Anne Gregory is a garden putterer, not a gardening expert, and writer and editor. Garden photos (JPEGs, please) and tips may be sent to (please put “The Dirt” in the subject line) or 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.