This is a file photo. No plants in this story have fully bloomed yet.

After we bought our current home and entered into the Chip & Joanna phase, we thought we’d dig up the bathtub garden that came with the place. (Yes, a bathtub buried in the yard as a flower garden. It was a thing back in the day.)  The tub wasn’t exactly our style, though, and it was a pain to mow around. Unfortunately, the previous planter did a great job. It is cemented in the ground with a circle of stones to finish the job.

We gave up and let it be an eyesore.

This year, I bought wave petunias. They go from a tiny sprout to an explosion of flowers and foliage as much as three to five feet wide in a short time. The perfect camouflage for my outdoor plumbing.

Unfortunately, the birds, rabbits, and squirrels thought I had planted a delicacy for them. After losing the first few blooms, I grew wise. I covered one of the plants with a wire basket. Ta, Da! The plant is growing, spreading, and blooming safely in its little cage. It can’t stay there, of course. Eventually, I’ll need to lift the basket to allow the plant to reach its full potential.

Each time I water this plant, I think of bringing up our children. We did the same thing for them. We didn’t do it perfectly. Not even close. But we did our best to shelter them from things that would nibble on their souls until they were old enough and strong enough to grow on their own.

I know we will still lose a few blooms when the basket comes off. But, hopefully, by then the plant will be mature enough to withstand a little trouble. It certainly worked with our kids.