Out in the garden, the coneflowers are at last making their appearance, sliding into the July line-up and giving the bees and butterflies, hummingbirds and humming girls, mommies and grannies reasons to sigh and smile, ooh and ahh.

They seem a bit delayed this year, though I’m judging their blooming against the blogs I’ve seen posting them for weeks now. We’re in a bit of a drought year, and this batch is established enough that I don’t water them. They’ve gotten a bit of a dunk here and there, but for the most part, my usual tough love policy has been in effect. (You’re a perennial, you have deep roots, and if you die, you’ll come back next year. We waste so much anyway, there’s no need to add more water to the list!)

But they are splendid, even without the coddling they could have gotten in someone else’s garden.

This plant is a start from my dear gardening grandma, who convinced me, through the simple use of “YES YOU CAN!” exclamations, that I could raise flowers as beautiful as hers. (The secret is not a magical green thumb, in my experience. The secret is to be more stubborn than the weeds, most days, and more persistent than you think you can be.) I treasure the plants in my garden that came from her – and from other dear friends and family members – because I think of those people every time I smile back at the colorful faces out there behind the kitchen window. I try to remember to say a little prayer for whoever the donor was, and what a beautiful way to pray, gazing at God’s creation, thinking of what a set of lessons is right outside my door.