A Gardener Salute

At first, the strange thought crossed my mind that they were saying goodbye, the hummingbird hovering just over my shoulder, followed by one dragonfly, then another and another, then at least a dozen spiraling through the air as though by design.

I had been talking about hummingbirds and dragonflies to my friend Dana. I’d wanted to see them in my garden out front. I’d glimpsed a hummingbird dash by twice in seventeen years out back, in the secluded patio, but only for a second. I had never seen hummingbirds in the front or dragonflies in either place.

I moved recently, a few miles away, to a different house. But I’m still going back to garden some at the old place. We haven’t cleared out yet. I wasn’t even thinking of the hummingbirds and dragonflies when I sensed something just over my shoulder.

And there it was, a hummingbird so close I could almost touch it, just over my head, near my shoulder. It was not in the flowers, but hovering in mid-air so close to me. Then it was off, replaced by a dragonfly. Then another and a third and a fourth, then at least a dozen circled the space above me.

And at first the strange question popped into my head “are they saying goodbye?” Then the frankly magical thinking that maybe they were reeling through space that day in a unique salute. After all, years before I had looked over the plain green spaces there and seen a vision no one else had thought of and brought it to life.

I coaxed bright colors from the earth, odd lilies and different jeweled mixes popping from the neighbors’ stands of hostas, pansies and azaelas. Others had hydrangeas, I had the delicate Starburst variety.

In the summer, carpets of giant zinnias grew huge, flanked by exotic Angel’s Trumpets that few had seen or heard of, huge bell shaped flowers unfurling from long okra-like pods, flooding the night air with a citrusy vanilla perfume.

The spectacle brought new people to the courtyard. Neighbors who never stopped to talk began to look forward to the sight. And as I gardened, day after day, for months each year, breaking out bright colors in a city often known for its grays, I became part of the landscape, as gardeners often do. My movements were a meditation, I was happy there, at peace.

And as my time in that space came to a close, maybe something humans cannot detect went off in nature’s radar. Maybe the hummingbirds and the dragonflies sensed a shift in a magnetic field. Something as simple as the fact that I am not out in the garden at night anymore.

So maybe their strange, unprecedented dance was a flyover in my honor as I moved on, a few miles up the road. I’m going to think of it that way.

It definitely wasn’t goodbye. Because I see them now, everywhere, the dragonflies. They are just there, often when I look up, their silent wings swirling in the air just ahead and above me. Keeping vigil. Keeping company. Showing me the way.

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Secret

(Note: I am working on a borrowed computer and can’t post photos temporarily. I soon will edit this with zinnia photos)

My neighbor J. is disappointed. Her zinnias didn’t come up. Everything else she planted did fine. She had admired my explosion of color for so long, this was her summer. She wanted those masses of blooms in front of her house, too.

We conferred all spring. Get seeds early at Target, or Safeway, I told her. Look for the giants, and the zinnias that look like dahlias, all spiky. Buy brilliant colors. Don’t be tempted by the swirls and the pastels. Go for the big ones, as big as plates.

Don’t plant too early. Northern Virginia is tricky. After a cold winter, a false heat will show up and with it the temptation to plant summer flowers. Don’t even think about it. Because after you get them in the ground, the cold will come swooping back. Maybe not a frost, but cold, dark and killing.

J. kept asking, “Is it time?” “Not yet,” I would say. “Be patient.”
And she was patient. She is a seasoned gardener and understands how to wait, which has been part of her recovery process after her husband was taken away too young by a devastating disease that struck a couple of years ago.

I think that’s part of the reason she wanted those zinnias. My flowers are a small stand of color that draws walkers from blocks away, stopping them in their tracks. Dreamy stares take over faces as memories slide into their minds. They tell me they are seeing grandmothers, aunts and fathers working in the flower beds. Vases of zinnias cut by mother in the childhood home. Neighborhoods unseen in decades. Streets that exist only in photographs now.

I don’t know what went wrong with J.’s zinnias. Years ago I did bring in some new soil to top off the existing bed. But it was just a few bags. J. gets full sun, as I do.
There is only one explanation, but it’s not something I easily talk about out in the real world.

My zinnias reveal something you wouldn’t know by looking at me. That patch represents my artistic side, also, the gentle rebel. The flowers pop from a sedate courtyard of traditional red brick townhomes softened by sedate shrubs, hostas, day lillies and small trees. The gardening committee doesn’t even approve, exactly, but the zinnias are popular so the members turn their heads.

I admit it, I talk to them. I can’t bear to thin the shoots, so I work long and hard finding places for every plant in other patches I manage to find and cobble together nearby. The house next door is a rental so I go to the tenants every year, hat in hand, asking if I can garden in their spaces.

If you are a seed, or a shoot, and your gardener can’t bear to lose one of you, wouldn’t you grow strong and beautiful too?

That’s my secret, I think, it’s love.

So before I leave the townhouse for good, for the new house, I plan to help J. again. I’ll dig up some of my zinnias, there are masses of them. I’ll dig holes in her flower bed and soak those with water and pop in the zinnias and fill them with good potting soil. I’ll have her join me.

We’ll tell the zinnias why we are doing this, talk to them about why they will grow well in their new space.

This will be my gift to J. A gift of love. I just know the zinnias will grow for her.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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When I See Cleome, I Think of You

The cleome reminds me of Alabama, of long stretches of green hill and field and wood. But it also brings to mind a tall, skinny boy and a stunning, unexpected romantic gesture.

The spiky flower that comes back year after year looks like the Wild Honeysuckle that grew in the woods behind my childhood home in north Alabama. My father tried to transplant a bush or two into the yard, but they never grew outside those woods.

I loved the flowers that cascaded from the Rhododendron canescens. The blush blooms and spiky stamens set the woods on fire. I’ve never tried to grow them here in northern Virginia because I can’t imagine they would survive. So instead I scattered seeds one year from some cleome I’d brought up from Alabama. They’re not the same, but they’re close.

And every year, when I see that first spiky pink bloom, it takes me back.

I remember the knock on the front door. My father opened it. He looked outside and no one was there. He went out on the porch. I followed. Then he said, “Well, there goes that boy, running off into the woods. He left you something.”

My father pointed to the porch step and a huge stack of Wild Honeysuckle, my favorite flower. Which that boy knew. That boy and I had exchanged taunts for ages, never saying a nice word to each other that I had recalled.

I was a young teenager holding onto my tomboyish ways. I was mad about the flowers. At first. I think I charged into the house, slammed the door. Then I went back and got the blooms, put them in water. I remember being puzzled. Why did he do that?

I never asked him about the flowers. He never mentioned them. We stopped taunting each other. Then, he moved away.

I forgot about the flowers, about the boy, for a while. But obviously they were a gesture that said so much more than the boy was capable of saying.

Something along the lines of: I care. I always have, that’s why I bug you. I have to leave now. I’m sad about that. I know you love these flowers. I hope you will remember me.

And I do. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, know this: Every single summer when I see the cleome, I think of you.

Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gardening, and Life, Unforced

I failed, again. The orchids died during the winter. I just can’t grow them.

Maybe impatience, watching too carefully and an improper setting too close to heating vents doomed the orchids. But that’s okay. Because I’m through with the needless trying, in gardening and other aspects of life.

I’m no longer envious when I see others in the flow, doing something so easily. Well, maybe a little. But I don’t need to try to duplicate the ease of others now.

Because I have my own zone. My garden, for instance, is distinct, unique to me. The blooms fit my personality. Like the old-fashioned, predictable zinnia, which in my garden is anything but.

Aunt Re had her African violets, which were perfect, not a spot on them. In fact, you had to stare a moment to make sure they were real.

She was a sweet woman, a worrier. The violets must have liked being made over. She kept them in a room with a big sliding glass door covered by drapes she would pull open and closed throughout the day, carefully calibrating the light just so.

She never had the children she wanted, and lavishly loved her nieces and nephews, making us feel special. We all responded in kind. Most of us, to this day, when asked about our favorite relative, will answer, “Aunt Re.”

Then, there’s the baking. For years, I’ve made a little southern butter cookie called brown-eyed Susans. They have a chocolate splash on top with a sliver of almond. I’ve given out the recipe, but no one makes it the way I do. That and pecan bar squares, which a friend in Tennessee told me how to make and people often request it now.

Once, a woman I knew who was an excellent cook insisted I was giving out those recipes with altered ingredients on purpose, so others would fail. Which was ridiculous. I’m happy to share and even offered to hold a “baking class” to try to find out what these cooks were doing to make the cookies hard.

With all baking, for instance, I follow the specified time broadly, but I watch and check too. Sometimes the items just need to come out of the oven sooner and that can’t be predicted.

I know when something is done by looking at it, touching it, sometimes. Plants are the same way, the ones I grow just feel right to me, they look right. So the orchids are the last ones in my wasted effort category.

Like relationships with the people we care for, I don’t force them or try too hard now. There are so many beautiful blooms out there, so much love. And I am safe in the knowledge that somehow, like these surprising Hymenocallis bulbs, they will find me.

Hymenocallis

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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A Clean Slate

I had dinner with friends I’ve known for years and stunned them with word we were moving to a new house a few miles away. And right away one of them asked, “What about your garden? What will you bring with you?”

I hadn’t thought about that. I mean, this isn’t just the place where I brought home my infant son 16 years ago. The green thumb I inherited from both parents was born here, a fusion of Mother, who ignores plants to robust health, and my father, whose gardening alchemy seemed channeled, full of soul and spirit, a communion of sorts.

We thought for years we would rent out this house after we found something else. But now it looks like we won’t. I mean, I can’t just start digging up plants. That’s not right. After all, my flashy elements are portable, like the Angel’s Trumpets, which I grow mainly in pots. I grow the giant zinnias from seed and I have plenty of cleome collected in a glass jar.

But what about the starburst hydrangea? I love that dainty but robust plant. I’ve never seen another like it. I really don’t think I can leave it behind. It’s too special.

And what about the tea roses? They strain to bloom every spring. When I moved in, the elm outside my back gate was on the small side. But with each year it throws more shade over the roses in my yard. It is a wonder the roses bloom at all now. The blush rose bush in the row of four is dead, in fact. The yellow rarely blooms at all. The dark red, the one with the deepest spice scent I’ve ever known, occasionally blooms. Only the fuschia retains hints of its former glory

If I were a new resident, I might just decide the roses had to go. But couldn’t I take them to the new house? I have the room. I have the sun. What is the ethics of this?

After all, I’ll be leaving so much behind in these small spaces — the peony bushes, the Stargazer lilies, which grow more beautiful every year. There’s a dogwood tree and the holly and many hostas. Linda gave me the big beautiful blue green hosta before she left to move back to Alabama. The others, all colors, also were gifts. I bought the bleeding heart to have something blooming early, in the shade. I’ve put in new bulbs every year, all kinds of things. Those I’ll leave, of course.

Then, I keep remembering what happened next door, when a neighbor sold her house after her mother-in-law fixed up the back yard as a gift. It was so beautiful. There were many plants, flowers and a small tree. The neighbor asked through the agents if she could take a few hostas and the new owner said no.

Then, most of the plants died, the hostas, the roses. The new owners didn’t move in for a while and it was a very hot summer. I tried to save them. I trained the hose over the fence every chance I got, but it wasn’t enough. Then, when the new owners did move in, the back yard became in reality a bathroom for the resident large dogs and the rest of the plants died. Even the pretty little tree was killed and had to be pulled out.

Still, I know the answer to my friend’s question. It will break my heart to say goodbye to these plants I’ve nurtured over the years. — my first offspring of the earth, so to speak. But I will have to let them go. All of them (well, maybe not the starburst). And I will start all over.

A clean green slate.

Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 1:33 am  Comments (6)  
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The Sharing Space

I had lived here only a short time when a neighbor asked me to share in the rental of a community garden plot. At first, I was not particularly inclined. The space, a new one just opening up, was not close and the beds would need lots of work to resuscitate.

But squirrels had demolished my attempts to grow vegetables in the back yard, a hazard in our neighborhood. Plus I liked this woman. My transition to a new home and motherhood at the same time had not been easy. So I agreed.

I was in for some surprises. The first one was that my new friend, who had been a successful businesswoman before changing careers after becoming a mother herself, had absolutely no idea how to garden.

We were both busy and I went to the space several times by myself, turning over the packed soil, adding top soil, amending it to add richness so plants would grow. I remember wondering when she was going to join me.

Then, kneeling in the soil, spade in hand, with several tomato plants I had just bought at a nursery, she confessed. “Now what do we do?” she asked, or something to that effect. “I meant what I said. I don’t have any idea how to start.” She was laughing then, saying something about digging holes. Or was it rows? Or what exactly does a person do?

I had gardened with my parents in rural Alabama as a child. My sister and I skipped barefoot down garden rows, dropping potato pieces into the freshly turned soil. We pulled weeds and picked the produce we ate minutes later on the supper table. My father gave me a small plot to grow gourds.

His strawberries were so delicious people begged him to grow more and he did, turning it into a small side business. He paid my sister and me, and our friends if they wanted, to pick the berries and handle sales to people who made reservations for as many quarts as possible every year, their names written in a notebook he kept in the telephone stand in the hallway.

My friend’s mother was from Alabama, so I had assumed some familiarity with gardening had been imparted at some point. But I was wrong. And I’ve come to find that my friend is not really that unusual, at least not in places like this, in northern Virginia close to D.C., where available land and time is scarce.

But gardening is regaining in popularity, even in urban areas. People talk about it frequently, this yearning to have a closer connection to their food and to beautify homes and neighborhoods with living things.

In fact, another friend and I plan to start a raised garden soon in the yard of her new home. Her 5-year-old son can’t wait. He wants to grow beans and pumpkins. And I plan to slip a gourd plant into a corner for him. For old times sake.

So I’m thinking back to my other friend and our time at the county garden plot, her surprise “confession” that she didn’t have the slightest idea how to start. And I remember that she seemed a bit embarrassed by that.

But there is no need for discomfort. Gardeners aren’t like an old co-worker who would charm favorite recipes from others, then act coy and ultimately refuse to divulge her own. Gardeners love to share. We give of ourselves. But the thing we need to remember is that sometimes we really do need to start at the beginning.

And my neighbor? We aren’t gardening together these days. I got absorbed in flower gardening around my home. Plus, the plot was too far away and people waiting at the bus stop caught on and kept filching the produce. But my neighbor and I grew a friendship. She’s my closest friend in the neighborhood, to this day.

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm  Comments (2)  
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Waiting For The Gilded Season

I don’t like to gild the lily as a rule. I had a bud vase that was perfectly adequate for the job. But today I decided to jewel this simple container with wire art, simulating the summer flowers that will be filling it in just a few months.

I’ve looked at seed catalogs and cleaned up my garden spaces. I’ve moved some of the winter sowing shoots out of their plastic containers into pots (yes, it worked!).
I’ve made plans with a friend to start a raised garden in the back yard of her new house. Other than that, I’m waiting. But in the Middle Atlantic area, gardeners who love hot weather best are in for a long haul, still.

So I took out the craft box. I selected colored glass and soft wire along with glue and wire cutters, the ones I use for jewelry. I went through a wire art obsession several years ago, fancying cheese and fruit plates and the handles of silver butter knives from antique stores. I jeweled glass butter domes. I repurposed oil and vinegar bottles with spouts as pretty liquid soap holders.

I didn’t think, then, about vases. After all, why gild the lily? But the winter has been so long this time. And my spirit needed some brightening. So I thought about the wire art. And I went to work.

I cleaned the glass with alcohol. Then I glued the colored pieces onto the vase. My idea was to simulate blue flower blooms with green pieces below, for stems. When the glue was dry, I started twisting the wire around the “blooms” and the “stems.” With a small vase, I had little room for flourishes. And that was fine.

Because I’m not ready, yet, to flourish. We have a break in the weather, the sun is out and it is warmer, but this thaw won’t last. I’ve been down this road, many times. The cold and gloom will return, endless chilling rain. But then it will leave, suddenly. And summer will be here. People all around me will be complaining that we didn’t have a spring at all.

And that will be fine with me. Because spring is just a means to summer. Summer, when my vase and I will be filled to the brim with the flourishes of the most gilded season of them all.

“Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue. “ Emily Dickinson

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Autobiography in Blooms

Garden as autobiography

So, Lucy did it again. This new friend, this musician/poet, pops up to say a few words and somehow she just knows.

Take a look, take a listen, she will say. Or on a page quivering with grief, she mentions her own experience, just briefly. But the contrast is so vivid, so profound, that at first I think I am misreading. And that’s the thing. I’m talking quantum leaps here. Some of us find them once in a lifetime. Maybe twice. Lucy makes them regularly. This, for Lucy, is normal. Which defines the artist.

And so.

Her most recent find, for me, was a link to a gardening video, an interview with a woman whose garden is in significant ways quite like mine. Lucy messaged about it in the comments section of my previous post. It is a lovely video.

The subject of the video is a woman across the vast ocean whose garden doesn’t even look like mine. But it is like mine, precisely, in fact. Because, as the interviewer said, this garden is in fact the woman’s “autobiography.” That’s what Lucy understood without seeing my garden. That’s what I have been writing about now for months but had not been able to put into words.

My garden is my autobiography.

Take my cleome. It reminds me of the naturalized azalea strewn throughout the magic woods behind my house growing up. The spiky blooming shrub sprang from the azaleas that lined the old vanished farms back there, left behind with the old wells of crumbling stone that dotted the landscape. And the azalea grew and spread and became something quite different. Hummingbirds love them. And I grow the cleome to remind me.

Wild beauty, the cleome

I also grow coleus, which comes in every color in the imagination and then some. I grow it for V., who took a walk one day near our first apartment near the campus and came back carrying an armful of brilliance. She had admired the brightly colored tropical plant in a yard and the owner gave her a pair of clippers, insisting she take some. We had been nervous about crime, the neighborhood, about striking out on our own outside the safety of the dorm. But the coleus, and the elderly lady who bestowed it, were talismans. And we knew we were safe.

Bright talisman, coleus

And the rose. I have what I consider the grandest birthday of the entire year — June 21. This is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. And what better flower to embody this glorious day and season than the rose.

I started planting zinnia seeds after I pulled into the driveway of my mother’s house and there they — waving in the sunlight. Of course, I thought, zinnias! And that’s been the response by so many of the people who make a point to walk by my house in the summer now. To remember the zinnias their grandmothers grew, their mothers, their aunts, even fathers. All those old zinnias grown so many years ago, now brought back to them in my garden and their hearts.

And the Angel’s Trumpet, which I fell for, deeply, hopelessly, the first moment I set eyes on it, at a farm market in my hometown. It didn’t matter that it thrives in warmer climates, like me. That I kept failing at getting it to bloom in northern Virginia’s too cold winters. That it kept dying in the ground. I was possessed by its beauty. Mesmerized. I had to see it through, to help it bloom despite the odds. Because this plant represents me. And in the angel’s sway I am, still.

And one special flower I put in my garden several years ago for no special reason other than I was drawn to it, for the bloom’s unusual nature, for a particular shimmer. This flower is small and unique. It blooms early and stays. It appears to be all white, but when you look closely, you can see a surprise tinge of lavender in the bloom. And at night, the petals glow, luminous.

I’ve never seen another plant like this one — the starburst hydrangea — which I now understand is in my garden for, who else, but Lucy.

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Reap What You Sow

Remember the white Angel’s Trumpet stolen from my front yard? My favorite plant?

No, I did not find it. But something happened that makes me almost as happy.

This summer I made a very quick trip home to Alabama. A relative was ailing and the trip was so fast I barely remember being there. I’m there now, another dash home, this time for the holidays.

As I walked into my mother’s garage, I saw a very small plant in her garage. Green, little, not her usual lavish display. Readers of this blog will remember my mother ignores her gardening into fantastic health. Most of the time.

So I did not pay attention to this tiny plant. Then she said, “Remember the trumpets you left me? One of them died, but one of them is still going. It’s out there.”

I thought a minute. Could it be?

It could be. It is.

I had cut back the white Angel’s Trumpet on the advice of my farm market guru in Alabama. She is as crazy about these plants as I am. She grows them from “scratch.” She takes seed pods and cuttings and grows them in a greenhouse.

She sold a white to me for $7. I was taking an airplane back to Virginia. So she told me to cut it back hard and wrap it up in a plastic bag, then pack it in my suitcase. “Don’t worry, it won’t mind,” she said. I was skeptical. But she’s never steered me wrong.

I gave my mother the two biggest cuttings from the plant. I put them both in potting soil. And the survivor was growing in her garage.

I am writing on my sister’s computer. I can’t post a picture of the tiny little sprig I cut, with Mother’s permission of course. But I have one. A piece of white Angel’s Trumpet. It is carefully stowed away in a canning jar for the ride home to Northern Virginia.

It is not from the trumpet I lost a few months ago at the hands of some heartless thief. But still, it is a new old plant.

It replaces one I lost. It makes me feel better.

I have many faults. But I am quick to forgive, even when people don’t even want to be forgiven. And I am generous. And the fact that I so wanted Mother to experience these lavish tropical plants has repaid me in the best possible way. She wouldn’t have accepted the plants if I had bought them. “Too much responsibility,” she would have said. She doesn’t like to have to look after them, after all.

Not like me, not like me at all.

So now my lost white angel has been replaced. In my mind. And in my hands. And that’s all that counts.

Welcome back, my sweet angel.

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 3:11 am  Comments (3)  
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A Gardener Released

rosegarden

For years I was the timid gardener.

There were roses in the back yard when I moved into this house. But with each year the elm outside the back gate got bigger, shadowing the roses, which strained to produce fewer blooms.

So I planted tulips to take advantage of the spring sun. But the squirrels stole most of them. I sent my little son and his friend after them with water guns once, and a neighbor scolded them about being “mean.” Mean?

I did manage to get a few daffodils and bleeding hearts to stay in the ground and bloom. Also peony, white and red, which I love. But peony, like a first kiss, is so fleeting that it is gone before you can properly appreciate this bloom’s full sensuous nature.

peony

But when the elm is in full leaf, the sun is gone from the back yard, which has a tall privacy fence. I grew tired of having a small burst of color in the spring and then mainly hostas. I needed a tall riot of color, blankets of it. So I went to the front where I had a solid block of sun a good part of the day.

Here is what happened, from the beginning, in pictures.

start

I had lots of failures and things I didn’t care for, in particular. The Angel’s Trumpets I brought up from Alabama as seed and tiny shoots leafed and leafed and finally put out exactly one bloom. Still I was ecstatic. It gave me hope.

onewhite

startingout

I wanted the flowers to be strong, to not depend on chemicals. So I spent several years amending the soil, bringing in bags of top soil and peat and this and that to get a good mix that somehow felt light and airy and well, right. This year I added the pulp from the organic vegetable juicing I’ve taken up. I didn’t use poisons. There are enough of those in the world.

I have mainly planted seeds. Somehow, these have worked better for me. I discovered that the flowers and I needed to start the journey together, from the beginning. I watched them carefully. Just the plants and me.

tinyblues

redtrumpets

But I was still being timid. I was out front where the foot traffic was heavy. It was hard to lose myself there. People walked by and spoke and chatted and gave their opinions about my handiwork.

This is the Washington, D.C., area., just over the Potomac River bridge in Virginia. There are lots of people from other places here. But the Virginians love their old-fashioned, unchanging sameness. Red brick colonials. And the plantings following suit.

I changed that in our little corner of the world.

The cleome were the first of the wild things. My mother had lots of it in Alabama. So I brought back seed in pods to plant in front. It took off like wildfire. One friend, a psychologist from Boston, shuddered when he saw it. “WHAT is that thing? Straight out of Star Trek,” he insisted.

cleome

Mother had always grown zinnias too. I cut a bouquet while visiting and it cheered up the house so. The flowers lasted and lasted. That’s it, I said, zinnias too. The nurseries had the same variety, State Fair or something. Small, only a few colors. I wanted tall and vibrant. So I went for the seeds.

Bent Zinnia

There were times they didn’t do well, so I learned to bend over a young zinnia plant, cover it with soil and it would grow long along the ground and push up new shoots and blooms. The picture above is all from one plant!

I planted lillies. Each year they grew bolder, as I did.

lillygardenfirst

And dahlias. These low-to-the-ground but showy orange flame blooms are the favorite of some neighbors. And they just keep coming back every year, despite the cold Middle Atlantic winters that freeze them every winter.

2nddahlia

I found my gardening sense of humor with the dahlias. Dahlias or zinnias, please stand up.

this dahlila

I have a fondness for the starburst hydrangea. I think because it isn’t the usual.

flowers 008

This year my something new was purple bells.

bells

But the star of the show is always the zinnia. I hate to thin them, so I keep taking over little plots of earth I find.

house

house2

sideview

They range from minis to California giants that grow as tall as me (5-5). Blocks of vibrant color, sometimes I feel like I am painting with plant life.

pinks

side too

This year I grew two new colors, white and a green called envy. New neighbors I had never seen before were coming around to see this one.

envy

And of course as much as I love the zinnias, for the joy they bring me, for the attention they get and for the bouquets they bring for months, the angel’s trumpets captured my heart. After playing coy for years, they burst forth. And bloomed and bloomed and bloomed.

whitetrumpet1016 013

pinktrumpets

So, is it any wonder that through my front door the following things have been on my walls for decades? These representatives of an inner life, pieces of art I selected for myself and which were selected for me.

flowerhouse

ellis

neworl

abstract

These paintings, some abstract, are of flowers and plants. Two are of places in the deep South where it is warm most of the year, where I yearn to be.

Proof that a not-so-timid flower gardener was inside all along. Waiting for the right conditions. To be born aloft by the completing elements of soil, sun, water and air. Finally, set free.

firstphotozinnias

Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 4:03 am  Comments (8)  
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