Thursday, August 25, 2011

Getting Potted

On this morning's tour of the back forty I noticed that the 6-foot banana tree was crowded behind the hydrangea so I put down my coffee on the twisted stone path, shifted the jasmine a few inches to the left, picked up the banana and dropped it in the space. Then  I sat on the back porch, finished that cup of coffee, and considered  the new arrangement. I think I like it, but if it disagrees with me later I'll just move the tree again. It only took, more or less, 47 seconds.

My garden, or much of it, shifts around this way because it's in a collection of pots and urns and assorted odd containers. Most are boring, but some are interesting--in design and sometimes story -- like the old plaster birdbath (which really needs work, I suddenly notice), and the Victorian umbrella stand that we bought from a couple of gay guys who were arrested for selling someone some weed and needed to scrape together the cash for a lawyer, and the terracotta cat that The Prince and I toted back from Mexico City several decades ago (the one that in an earlier post that is appearing in the bird cage).  Oh yes, and the bird cage. .

Birdbath Looking Really Awful
Growing stuff in pots is helpful when you have an ill-considered if beautiful (for a spring week, maybe two if you're lucky) cherry tree that's swiftly taking over the air rights to your garden, as I do. And particularly when you persist in buynig plants that thrive on sun and all you can provide, to put it generously, is dappled shade.  That would be me as well.

And  when you spend a small fortune (me! me! me!) on tropicals that want to spit at you and thwack you with flailing limbs and lethal thorns for the lousy environment you've provided -- the least you can do is attempt to make them happy. And if one of them is disagreeable enough to drop dead on you mid-summer? A little shift here and there and you soon forget to feel guilty.

There was a time, not long ago, when most of the garden was actually in the ground.  But then The Prince, in a self-serving mood, built a greenhouse off my second floor office so I would get the goddamn plants off the goddamn kitchen counter...where they upset him. And WHY, I say, since he hasn't cooked since the artichoke debacle of 1994,  and considering the condition of his garage....

Most likely he needed space for the often indecipherable notes and various lists and instructions that he leaves on the counter for me each morning. Today's collection included: an announcement that he was thinking of leaving me for the Duchess of Alba; this weekends storm will only be a category 2; and he's sick of his customers.

One of my all time favorites was (soon to be the title of my book) a cautionary notice that began:  "Ladies! Ant season is upon us!"

Ant season . Pffft.

Anyway, he built the greenhouse and this enabled me to winter-over the tropicals, marching them upstairs in their pots in October.  Some of them die anyway, because I'm lazy and easily distractable and some, more recently, have been lethally chewed by my feral parakeets. But most perform enthusiastically and the scents of orange and jasmine and paperwhites and such are quite fabulous, drifting through the house in midwinter.

In April the plants march down again to take their summer positions in the garden.
The banana tree that I hoisted about this morning is fake, by the way. But that's another story. 


  1. I love that birdbath! So funny. And now I have to go and look up the Duchess of Alba...

  2. There was something about the Duchess in yesterday's paper -- she's 94(?), the wealthiest woman in Spain, and just engaged to a 60-something lothario. To The Prince I say (sotto voce), via con dios! Imagine the alimony(:


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