How come we haven’t heard about social distancing when it comes to weeds? A social distancing weed is defined as any plant in the wrong place, but at least six feet or more apart. Wouldn’t that be a joy to weed a garden like that? The only problem is, I have never seen a garden like that, so I leave the weeding of our Nature Education Center gardens up to my wife, Mary Lou. I am not sure she really enjoys weeding, but I don’t ask. We both know that we, our visitors, and pollinators all look forward to our beautiful blooming flowers throughout the growing season.

Mary Lou’s trick to not having so many weeds is to fill her gardens with so many flowering plants that weeds have little chance of growing — in most cases. In other words, social distancing is not practiced with her flowers, not even close to it. In order to manage our gardens, Mary Lou has had to cut down from seven to five gardens with maybe even more on her “hit” list.

Having more time to garden during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing because it is healthful, therapeutic, and no social distancing or masks are required. And growing flowers, giving flowers, looking at and photographing flowers all bestow a peace and tranquility to all amazed by their natural beauty nourished by sun, soil, rain, and the gardener who weaves it all together.

One of the joys of gardening is to look at and share with others the beautiful flower tapestry created. Because we can’t have visitors during the pandemic, we would like to share with you some of our current, favorite blooming flowers through a visual essay. Enjoy the flowers.

Nicholls can be reached at nicho002@umn.edu.