It started out to be the year without zinnias. Hopeful early visits to the nearest garden center were disappointing, and travel cut into my home gardening time. Two little market packs of spindly zinnia seedlings distributed between the front of the house and a spot in back near the fence grew slowly into discouraged-looking plants with no buds in sight.
The discouragement wasn't only local. The slightly larger plants purchased and planted in my parents' garden were beaten down by Maine's wet weather and devoured by slugs.
Not until the end of July did my plants begin to show buds, with two of them blooming this week: a pleasingly hot violet pink in the back and an anemic salmon orange in front.
Meanwhile, a stocky mystery plant had begun to grow on the edge of the back walk, or rather (because it hasn't actually been edged in quite some time) in the meager layer of soil gradually building up on the edge of the aging pavement. Curious, or perhaps unconsciously recognizing a familiar form, I let it grow. Now it has a bud, and is clearly a zinnia. I can't wait to see what color it turns out to be. Will it be one of the hot zinnia colors I love, or a weak pastel? In either case, it tells me that next year I should just plant some seeds.