Now you all know of my propensity to have black thumbs in the garden department. I couldn’t even grow a wart if I sat a toad on my hand for a month. I have been hailed as one who can even kill crabgrass, so bad am I with plants. I am an equal opportunity killer – I kill both with kindness and neglect – I overwater, I underwater, I burn with fertilizer, or I starve the greenery without it.

That was until my darling daughter, Madam, and her friend The Beckster, planted tulips and peonies for me.

Now I have my “babies,” I’m being as diligent as I can be. Mind you, unless I come out at midnight with a night vision goggles and a pellet gun, there was, sadly, no way to save the bulk of my tulips from the ravages of rodents, despite my liberal application of faux fox urine or cayenne pepper. Of the 100 tulips the girls planted, in year 1 up came 86 tulips. Year 2? A paltry 16.

What was fascinating though, was that of the 16, one was yellow and all the rest were purple. In future, if I can only buy purple producing bulbs, I reckon I will have a handle on squirrels’ and rabbits’ taste buds.

Year 1 my five brand new peonies produced, preciously, one wee flower. Year 2? Three of them produced vase-worthy blooms – next year I will be overrun, I hope.

My geraniums which The Beckster insisted I bring inside for winter are thriving on the deck, along with my self-purchased and self-planted gardenias. I have a pot of catnip to ward of mosquitoes on the table, and haven’t been assaulted by a mountain lion yet. The jury’s still out on its supposed mosquito-repellent properties, but so far it all looks good.

I have had a crop of fascinating mushrooms after the recent rains though. One bed is producing early morning translucent fungi which die with the sun, and one of my pots looked like it was harboring a pod person or two until they indeed bloomed into bright yellow toadstools. I must remember not to add these to Sir’s morning omelet, as I’m not sure that accidental poisoning is permitted in Missouri. Just kidding honey!

And now Sir has topped off the garden experience, by braving the store, led by the nose by our Little Hot Tamale, in the purchase of a replacement for our very sad looking umbrella.

Back they came, triumphant with a brand new brolly for the deck. Thus erected it sat there looking very proud of itself, made prouder when Sir, with a little bit of fiddling, managed to produce music from the pole. I kid you not. It’s a musical umbrella, and it links by Bluetooth to your iPhone. What will they think of next, I ask you?

All we need now is a summer gentle enough to enable us to sit outside.

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at .