Monday, July 05, 2010

My life in flowers. . . . .

My life in flowers. . . . .

1. The Peace Rose, perhaps the only flower my mother ever bought. The rose that brought my father home from the war, and ended my life as a well traveled child.

2. The Madonna Lily that daddy bought every Mothers' Day, each planted below the living room window. A front flower.

3. The dusk task every summer evening: rubbing the aphids off of the rose buds.

4. I always got to wear Saturday night's gardenia to church on Sunday. And it was mine till it died, and beyond. Even the brown leather petals smelled lovely.

5. I wanted gardenias for my wedding, but it was July, and had to settle for a flat white orchid. Which smelled like nothing.

6. My own first garden: digging out the forsythia (don't like stupid plants) listening to the radio coverage of the MLK riots. It and about seven bushels of construction debris. Replaced it with a mock orange.

7. Many daylilies, only orange and yellow then. Reliability is to be prized in growing things.

8. No house plant I owned during that marriage lived. Even bamboo died. When I left, I invested 25 cents in an areca palm from Woolworth's. It lived, and many other slips and bits and gifts did too.

9. When I left for China, I gave away all my plants. The papyrus traveled to Boston, and was installed at Digital next to a friend's desk, and grew nearly three storeys before I returned. I was given granddaughters, but the cats keep eating them. It grows wonderfully for my son.

10. The Li in my Chinese name, Zhu Li, means jasmine.

11. My second garden was captured wildflowers and blown in volunteers -- bouncing bet, Queen Anne's Lace, ox eye daisies, a five petal pink wild rambler, roadside daylilies. After a couple of years, and both of us with jobs, nursery stock got added. Tree peonies, iris, daylilies, astilbe, bleeding hearts, hollyhock,Solomon's Seal, foxglove. It was harder leaving that garden than selling the house.

12. When I found the cabin in Cazadero, it was raining, and the smell was wonderful! Bay laurel. The first I'd ever known. I lived in the redwoods, a second growth mother next to my deck. Some nights I danced nekkid on that deck under the redwood and stars as big a teakettles and frying pans. When I came east again I brought both a laurel and a redwood. Both died even before winter.

13. Here, the pinkwooded hemlock, which must be a near relative to the other, though it will never grow so large or live so long, and is in fact dying from the predation of a tiny piece of lint called a woolly adelgid. All, all dying. The garden again weeds and wildflowers: phlox, beebalm, forgetmenots, crown vetch, butterfly weed, Jerusalem artichokes, black eyed Susan, swamp milkweed, white snakeroot, bouncing bet again (soapwart). jewelweed, Christmas fern and staghorn fern, and my mother's iris which I brought home after she died. And a Peace Rose. The purple loosestrife, an invader but beautiful is establishing itself on the bank across the river, and I've been warned it will destroy my marsh, but it's so beautiful. . . . I suspect I'll wait too long to try. False indigo runs both sides of my dirt drive all the way to the state road. My pasture/meadow has mayapple and, bull thistle (but not much). Up road is mullein and black cohosh. On my drive to town I know where the wild columbine, the bachelors button, the St. John's wort, and the fox glove grows. And when to look for them. I brake for flowers (and butterflies).

14. The two years in NYC were orchid years. Flower shops on every other block, and huge bunches of orchids to be bought on the way home or to someone's for dinner. With editing, a bunch can be made to last two weeks.

15. The past couple of years, I've begun to notice how lovely the grasses are. My love is a plant scientist, and a grass man. His opening letter to me suggested I needed to add lady slippers to my list of interests. I laughed, and said: they're there, look again.

16. I'll admit reluctantly that I adore blue devil. I even tried to transplant it (with gloves on), but its taproot defeated me.

17. I have a bumper sticker on my car, made by a friend who had a cafe press shop: Plants are ethical beings -- eat an animal instead.


hannah said...

The loosestrife appears in soils that have been disturbed. I think the seeds lie dormant for a long time. Our loosestrife lives quite contentedly with iris, arrowhead, boneset, jewel weed, in wet soils. It plays host to bees and wasps and Japanese beetles, whose decimation seems to result in less tall plants. The thing about plants we call weeds is that when you cut them back, they flower shorter. Paths mowed through hay fields are proof of that. Even the queen anne's lace grows in miniature. Plants are used to being browsed. Some send out suckers just to tempt the browsers and "protect" the main trunk.

puddle said...

Oh, I love it, but mostly, I think the river brings it to me. Like the Jewelweed. And grateful I am.

I think you're right about the mowing -- the roadside versions (mowed) are proof.