Saturday, October 13, 2012

Happy Anniversary Garden

Will the mandevilla give me one lousy flower this year, or not?

I have been observing the above bud for the past week, creeping past last night's dirty dishes (not my job) each morning and tip toeing down the steps into the garden, wincing over the pebble path in my socks, hoping that this single bud has finally opened.

At 7 a.m it was looking a little shriveled, although it appears better in the photo than it has any reason to. An over-caffeinated hand was at hand, giving it a facelift. Like a Vaselined lens focused on a wrinkled face.

It was chilly last night, parts of Washington were frosted, they say.  Capitol Hill, however, has a micro-climate that keeps the freeze at bay sometimes for a week or a month longer than elsewhere.

Perhaps it's our hot air.

This was an apology plant, purchased in early July at our local garden emporium, a small place just past the freeway overpass that's exceedingly expensive but particularly lush and tempting. The Prince had done Something Bad, I forget what now.  And we were out for a bumpy walk that ended up here, with the purchase of this cheery specimen, all red and white stripes. At $30, it was far more than I would usually spend, particularly for a plant that has repeatedly failed me (though it grows like a weed in every third garden in the neighborhood).

But I let him buy it for me. Perhaps with a hint of malice, knowing that it would fail. And I've watched it grow bushy and green with not one hint of a flower, never mind a bud. Until now, at the season's tail end, when I'm ready to up-pot my tropicals and tote them to the second floor greenhouse -- or figure out a way to guilt someone else into the toting. The bare spaces will be filled with the sacks of tulips hanging in the hall closet, waiting for burial.

Sadly, Mandevillas do no better in the greenhouse than they do in the garden.


If you think that because I have a gardening blog I know what I'm doing you're wrong. This month I am celebrating thirty years of generally unsuccessful toiling over the same garden. Pretty much nothing has gone according to plan.

My best work, in fact, has been cultivating friends that know less than I do and so are buffaloed into thinking  some strategy was involved in the garden's evolution from dirt and a clothesline to a jungle.  

I mean, I usually start out by reading and studying and developing ... thoughts. I shall plant this and that and move this here and there ... and maybe some lighting?

And then I get distracted by a mandevilla, knowing it Will Not Work under the dense canopy of shrubbish I have stuffed into this tiny plot and never get around to pruning. So many flowers are too captivating to the tender id to ignore. Shiny things, you know. Do you?

Kind of a metaphor for my life.

My my you're in quite the mood this morning aren't you, I tell me.



  1. Bittersweet words/thoughts...I can identify with the beautiful analogy. Someday...someday!

  2. sooner rather than later my buffalo friend.

  3. "Hot air" - ha ha! I don't think I own an Apology Plant. It's a good way to stock your garden, perhaps, by adopting a hurt-but-dignified air.

    I have been thinking about your posting about the people with the glass house. I am confused about those people. Are we supposed to be happy for them or try and emulate the glass house in our own gardens? What was your "message" behind the piece?

  4. 1. Hurt-but-dignified air is something else I cultivate--besides the garden and that crop of friends. There's a fine line here between HBD and martyr though, so one must be careful.

    2. One needs pots of money to emulate those folks, so it's not for the light of wallet.

    3. The message was: pay me well and I'll write about anything.

    1. Additionally, after various stabs (marter? martar?) I had to ask the Prince how to spell Martyr. When he stuck in the y I said, "Y?" And he got all puffed and announced, "I am a lapsed Catholic, I should know. You never trust anything I say..."

      I just found that amusing. A day later.

  5. Your fabulous irreverence is breathtaking, and I loved "shrubbish" --what a great word. Doesn't it make you mad when you see some miserable plant growing in every crack in the concrete around your neighborhood but it won't grow in your fabulously prepared perfect-conditions bed? But wait, you have conquered the mandevilla- Yay! (I don't really know what a mandevilla even IS, but you have taught me to buffalo...)

    1. HWY CAN'T I POST TO YOUR WONDERFUL BLOG!!!! I had something so ....important to say about sunflowers.

  6. I love this post!! I love the term 'shrubbish'!! I've never had an apology plant purchased for me but I do occasionally get an "Ok, I'll shut up now" when I've laid on the stink eye. Besides the utterly brilliant shrubbish, my favorite line is the last one. :o)

    1. Clearly you have not been practicing the hurt yet dignified air. Having studied theatRe for several years of my youth, I have cultivated a whole bag of beneficial postures, this being one of my best. There will also be much drama surrounding the transport of the plants to the second floor...tubercular coughs, that sort of thing. Coming soon!

      (Thank you for loving the post. As always, I appreciate knowing I am not blathering into a vacuum).


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