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This is a photo of our Mexican petunias. We bought the plants three years ago, expecting them to be tough sons of bitches capable of weathering the hot, humid summer months of Kansas City. When I hear the name “Mexican petunia,” I imagine a stubborn, hardy bush defiantly blooming its purple flowers on the cracked desert floor or in the middle of a concrete median along a Tijuana boulevard. I imagine something like the plant described in this Southern Living article.

Yet, here are our proud Mexican petunias, wilting in the full sun of an 81 degree day.

“Those plants look sad,” my 3-year-old son says as we drive up to the house, where the petunias droop like a pair of sad-sack sentries.

“They do, don’t they?” I reply. My wife or I will get out the garden hose and water them down, a part of our daily routine during the summer. If there’s a 90-plus degree in the forecast, I’ll drag the plants into the garage for a while to give them a break from the heat. And I will stare down at them with the pitying look of man who has invested in a thoroughbred colt that’s too scared to come out of the stable.

In a week or two, those purple flowers will bloom and all will be forgiven. Maybe we’ll even have some nice, spring-like weather, and the petunias will perk up the way they did that day we brought them home from the nursery. They seemed so happy back then.

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