Perk up, Little Sister


By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer

Janice Lindsay writes about her experience with watching monarch butterflies.
Janice Lindsay

Little Sister was a perennial pink geranium, alone in the corner of a small garden. She was tiny and thin, but she did not give up. 

She had been transplanted to an otherwise empty corner of my garden because in her first home nearby, she had been overshadowed by overzealous hostas. I hesitate to call hostas the garden bullies. Let’s just say that those exuberant bush-like plants with their salad-plate leaves grow quickly and they don’t know the strength of their own shadows.

In her new spot, Little Sister seemed to pine for her big sister, who grew across the way, near the big guys. Stubborn and bold, Big Sister proudly displayed her pale pink five-petaled blooms. She did not fear bullies, and did not seem to miss her sister.

I am not a gardener. In fact, my attention to a plant has been known to cause its downhill slide into oblivion. But four small flower gardens were already established when we moved into our house. I wanted to do right by them. I bought the book “Gardening for Dummies” and learned just enough to know that I could be dangerous and should not attempt this without professional help.

Fortunately, my friend, whom I’ll call “Flora,” is just such a professional. I had met her in her capacity as a management consultant, and we had become friends by the time she started her gardening business.

Flora studied my garden and slipped into management consultant mode, asking the most basic management consultant question: “What’s your objective in having a garden?”

Being shy about sharing my primary motive (to not kill anything), I answered with the second: “To attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.” 

I confessed to Flora that if wildflowers crept into my garden, which a real gardener would call “weeds,” it was okay with me, as long as the birds, bees, and butterflies liked them.

Flora, always the diplomat, said that was fine, if it was what I wanted and I made the conscious management decision to allow interlopers to take nourishment and space from invited inhabitants.

Flora and I moved one of the bullies (oops) to another garden a few yards away. Under that one, we had found a bunch of baby hostas and established them in their own space. We moved a couple of coral bells away from you-know-who. Here and there, we added flowering plants from a local nursery.

I say “we” because Flora is always hopeful that if she shows me what to do and how to do it, I will magically turn into a proficient gardener. She has failed. I’m a sincere but untalented pupil.

Finally, Flora moved Little Sister to that uninhabited sunny corner. She spoke softly to Little Sister, as she had spoken to all the plants. “You’ll do much better in your new home, sweetheart,” she promised.

As Flora drove away, all the plants, elderly and newcomer and especially Little Sister, cried, “Flora! Don’t leave us alone with this plant-killer!” I felt the same.

I tried not to give them too much personal attention, and they all did surprisingly well, except for Little Sister, who continued to seem depressed.

One day, good news. Volunteers from Flora’s own garden would soon arrive to keep Little Sister company.  Little Sister seemed to perk up, though the change was almost imperceptible. 

She enjoyed her new neighbors, and they all bloomed happily ever after.

Well, to be honest, they all bloomed happily for a respectable while.  Even with good care, “ever after” is too long for some plants. But they were lucky. If not for Flora, it might have been “never after.” 




Watching monarchs (

Little comment, big change (

It starts with one toy elephant (