Madgardener 2012-02-08 08:11:47
This is another attempt to rewrite a piece I did a few years ago. I came
across it and decided to give it one last whack. I hope it will do. Remember
it’s from a time past and I’ve moved onward since then. So settle back, grab
a glass of sweet tea and give it a read. And let me know what you think. I
love critism! This was rejected by Pat Stone for Weeders Digest and
rereading it I see why. This is my attempt at another try. Lets hope this
one works and flows better……….
Wanted: to a good home……….
Have you ever noticed that some flowers are downright sneaky? I have always
said that I never met a flower that I didn’t like. But I’ve begun to
re-think those words to live by creedo that I’ve put onto my gardening
madness lifestyle. And did you ever notice that once you decide to get into
gardening, that it eventually begins to take over? I’ve never really met a
part-time gardener. No, we’re all pretty much the rabid, foaming at the
mouth, gotta have more, “isn’t that one neat? How big will that one get?
Does it bloom alot? Have you got a piece of that one to share with me?
I’ll give you some of mine! ” kind of people.
I think that gardening affects us linda like what that ONE vining
groundcover I bought one year did in the spot I thought I’d plant it in.
Lamium, variety “Variegatum”. Yep, gardening creeps up on us like that
really neat little varigated vine did, never suspecting that it’ll take over
other area’s of our lives.
My one Lamium plant has thrown long arms of daughters, each with their own
plans of domination as far away as four feet. Has decided to broad-jump the
sidewalk via the crack at the end of the before mentioned sidewalk to
conquer the OTHER flowerbeds. And since writing this, it has completely
taken a foot hold on a whole bed and is marching westward to the pastures
beyond. The same applies to other flowers that have entered my life, or
should I saw, flowerbeds? No…..life is more final.
I adore Cleome spinosa, aka Spider flowers. The first time I saw them, I
snuck into the yard where they were growing and gathered a few seed and
planted them in my new but rapidly filling flowerbed in Nashville I had
lovingly started calling “Fairy gardens”. For my thievery, I was amply
rewarded with tens upon tens of the pink variety. Which quickly succumbed
to domination by just five. Ahhhh, but those five were awesome.
They grew to be well over five foot tall, with multiple branching arms that
reached out, draped over, and dangled across a space of over four feet. And
at that time, I was thrilled by the cute seed pods dangling at the ends of
thin threads, ever reaching higher as it bloomed, seeded, bloomed, seeded,
etc all summer. GREAT!! A flower that blooms all Summer!! I want more!
Well be careful what you wish for.
That was also the year I liked them because a new neighbor moved in across
the driveway with a tromping on everything 4 year old son. I showed him one
day after his ball came crashing into my flowerbeds yet again that “my
flowers bite” and when he gave me the standard response of “uh uhhhh” I had
him lightly touch the Cleome as proof (as you know, little boys DEMAND PROOF
anyway, I raised two of ’em, I know that for fact!). I NEVER had a problem
with Derrik’s b**** and toys winding up in my flowers ever again in the
flowerbed that stretched the whole length of my house along the shared
driveway across from his own house. Did you see my logic in the garden
I also discovered a cuter and more appropriate name for them when I found a
new color I was unaware of. These new colored ones were deep grape, and even
though I knew better, I had to have JUST six plants. “Cat’s Whiskers”
sounded so much neater………Then the daughters of the first five came
back the next year, along with the children of another new flower for me
that year………called 4 o’clocks. Which once again, I was thrilled with.
For me, the plant was incredible. It smelled divine, bringing me memories I
was totally unaware of from my childhood. It branched out as well, and
thankfully it didn’t have hidden spines like the Cat’s Whiskers did, and the
flowers opened up in the early mornings, closed by mid-day and re-opened
later in the evenings. Or even better, bloomed all day when it was cloudy.
The first ones were from three roots given to me by my boss and friend at
the school cafeteria. Mrs. Hess never warned me about them. I planted them
willingly in hopes of more later on. The next year when it returned
unannounced, it came back by the wads with literally 100’s of those pink
Cleome. Everywhere. In the driveway. Across the driveway, which made me
think my neighbor’s son might have successfully snitched a few of the neat
little pods when I wasn’t looking. Good. Now SHE’LL have then forever
I was also evil that year, showing him how the 4’s seeds looked like little
grenades, and she wound up with more than I did. I was helping the flower
fairies do their job. Maybe I was becoming an over-grown flower fairy?
When I got seeds to my grand mammy’s opium poppies that I’d not once seen in
the 22 years of visiting every weekend they’d always been there, I was
estatic. Out of three OUNCES of seed I got from my Aunt Pearline who had
horded and saved them when she moved after Mammy’s death into a duplex and
raised her own for twelves years I got only six plants. But from those I
got 29 and those 29 were car stoppers. Sadly a rainy winter and lots of
runoff washed the next years seeds into a dark gully across the street and I
lost them. But briefly they were glorious and I was willing to have hordes
of them as I remember the pods in the flowerbeds I knew as a child.
The triple daylilies I dug out of the neighbor’s back yard before he mowed
them down were innocently planted along the front sidewalk of my house as 12
clumps along with some huge bulbs of something called Surprise lilies. The
daylilies crept UNDER the sidewalk, over to the other side and down to the
lower yard to the driveway. The Surprise lilies took five years to bloom
for me and that was after I moved to Eastern Tennessee. They’re there still
on the embankment of the yard. I’ve given “toes” of those daylilies away to
unsuspecting people who see the neat triple petaled, red throated blossoms
and want a piece for themselves.
I’ve sent them to Michigan, to my friend who lived in Denver at the time,
where tehy still grow despite the snows, wierd weather and alkeline sandy
soil. And despite their tenacity, she’s still my friend.. Now she gives
away toes of HER daylilies, and seed from the flowers that I send her from
East Tennessee in the mail.
Which brings up another thought. I don’t think that my flowers are reading
the gardening books. They must be illiterate. I grow flowers here in
Tennessee that aren’t supposed to do well in less than zone 7. But I send
seeds and roots and tubers to arid, “we have REAL winter here” Denver, zone
5 and they do just fine. Some even better than mine here. And I have clay
soil you can make into pots almost, she had sandy soil I’d just love to work
with because it doesn’t take 15 hours to dig one raised bed.
One year the Cleome came up in the bricks in front of the flowerbeds on one
end at my then new house. They prevented my husband from parking in that
spot, which in actuality I was grateful for. Were they reading my mind?
But they also came up ten foot down at the presumed dead maple tree, because
once again winter rains had sown the seeds in bizarre places. The next year
all the Cleome were coming up in the grass outside of the raised beds and
any pot that sat under their branches and seed pods.
I believe most of everything I’m growing is invasive. The foxgloves moved
and didn’t leave a forwarding address, so I bought four more to replace the
originals and then found some five foot over from where they’d originally
been. And since then, they’ve moved on, laughing at my attempts to please
get them to reseed. I keep trying. A neat little pink Lychiness my friend,
Mary Emma gave me (come to think of it, quite a bit of what she’s given me
spreads, seeds, walks and takes over too!!) was supposedly gone too, so I
got three more plants from her in her “I’ve got plenty more, take some, take
a lot” flower garden and once home discovered six crammed together in one of
my hens and chickens rocks with the holes in them.
And speaking of hens and chickens, I got 47 diferent ones from a pen pal
gardener in Kansas and discovered that cut up mini blinds used as plant
markers isn’t a bad idea, but permanent markers aren’t. I had all sorts of
neat hens and chicks, but didn’t have a clue to their identities before the
potting mix I used refused to nurture them and I lost them everyone.
I had columbines in my hen’s pots, Columbines scattered everywhere in a
fifty foot radius in both directions in every flowerbed I have. Wherever
there is a bare spot of soil, which I apparently have run out of…….I
sometimes only have room to plug in more bulbs, which you now I am won’t to
do that too…………
Sedums in one pot are dropping tiny round succulent leaves like tiny green
para-troopers and are invading the ground below the pot, creeping towards
the driveway. I have three different kinds of loosestrife, which is really
dangerous, because they have that desire to rule the world gene in them too.
I think I have the yellow one that for awhile busted thru the cracks in the
timbers that lines the beds, the dreaded pink one that’s eating Michigan and
the wetlands just hops about like a loony. showing up wherever it wants to
but never gives me that glowing pink as far as you can see look. Clay seems
to dominate it better and restrain it. The cute Gooseneck on the other hand
is a true thug with endearing looks. It’s tromping everywhere it wants to.
Especially since I loosened it from the confines of the bricko block I had
originally planted it in.
False Dragonhead just didn’t like the western ended bed, it threw an out of
the ball park home run about 16 foot, dead ringer into a concrete pot that
used to be crammed with Dragon’s blood sedum, candytuft and hens and chicks
and a few Tarda tulips I slipped in as an after thought. Everything died in
that pot but the dragonheads. They love the pot.
Spiderworts are sneaky, too. Originally back in Nashville I had two huge
clumps of them. I didnt’ know what they were. They flourished. I divided
them and planted them up front. Boy did they love me then. I moved them
along with the rest of the yard to Eastern Tennessee and had two kinds of
them. The sky blue was the original one that exposed me for the first time
to invasion of a different level, by root AND by flinging seeds. Later I
received a gift of a thinner leafed variety that had magenta flowers from
another gardening friend who thought it “clashed with my other flowers”. I
know why he gave me the clump he did. It spread and flung, and threw seeds
as far away as 20 foot into the already crowded triple daylily bed before it
finally gave up on me. I had hoped they’d give each other a run for their
money space wise that was. I want more of the magenta spiderwort.
I think that sometimes the devious nature of these invaders rubs off on us
too. My friend Mary Emma gave me seeds a few years back of an exotic plant
she called “Abelmoscus”, or ornamental okra. She had two kinds. One was
furry, short and had cherry red hibiscus flowers rising up just two feet
from the ground and I fell in love with them immediatey. the other one was
the taller one. I even sent seed to Pat Stone. These flowers are
defiinately in my classification of invasive, sneaky, and beautiful and I
added them to my “biting” catagory as well after I grew them the first year.
I forgave them when they finally showed themselves after I give up and think
they’re not returning. The seeds won’t germinate until the soil reaches a
steady 76o F. How neat. When they come back, the beautiful Hibiscus
flowers all along the branches of the five and six foot stems that have
itchy hairy prickles and neat large leaves. Then they start making fat, okra
like pods and now I know to scramble to cut them off before they start
drying and looking like some alien.
Because when it’s touched, it itches, and bites the fingertips like my
mammy’s eating okra did when we gathered it in early summer. One year a
lot of my flowers resembled the old B-grade movie, “the day of the Triffids”
and just grew feet and appeared to walk to other spots in the flowerbeds.
That’s the name I gave the Cleome’s one year. Triffids. Even Mike McGrath
could see the resemblance.
All the Loosestrife are shoving themselves between the cracks of the timbers
intent on reaching the outside. You can almost hear high pitched “follow
me!!!!!” And the horse-tail I brougt with me is right behind it in hot
pursuit. Despite that I constantly pull it up, it pops up feet away from
where I planted it under an overflowing waterspout. What a dummy I
was……. for awhile it tried to grow over the porch.
Another little “gift” that Mary emma bestowed on me for a few years was a
little beauty called Cypress vine. I can honestly say that I have found the
cure fot that ferny little vine with all those little itty bittey maroon
trumpets that the hummers go insane for. this vine is meaner than
honeysuckle in it’s own way. While you might admire the beauty of the
delicate ferny leaves, each flower sets four very fertile seeds, and there
are HUNDREDS of flowers, much to you temporary delight) pollinated or not.
The next thing you know, the vine grabs and chokes and strangles everything
in it’s climb to wherever it thinks it’s going. Another world ruling plant.
One year every clump of flowers I brought home from her house had both
cypress vine AND Abelmoscus!
This last year no sign what so ever because it seems that if your flowers
are elbow to elbow, they will smother out some of those would be invaders.
All I have to do this year is pull up all those children of the 4’s, all but
five or six of the sunflowers that the birds gift me and themselves with
that started out from the feeders I had hanging in a Mimosa……….and we
won’t even get started on TREES that want to cover the Earth………… and
oh no….that new plant I got to try one year with the white grayish foliage
called Artemesia……it appears to have walked six feet away from where I
plugged it in originally. And why do I have Periwinkle vinca major
EVERYWHERE???? Where did all that feverfew come from and go to? For three
years I had more Feverfew than one could want. Now there is nary a clump of
it and I miss it’s clean white flowers and sharp astringent smell. I never
planted that, maybe if I put out the word the seed fairies will grace the
gardens with it’s presence again.
How on earth did I get so much Bee Balm??!? Augghhhhhh! I know! I’ll have
a plant sale……..the sign will say “Wanted………to a good
home………..”Cat’s whiskers” …………..
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler where the flowers change
shifts all the time overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee zone
7, Sunset zone where I still love invasives and have even more of them
Cheryl isaak 2012-02-08 08:11:55
Pat has gotten more and more to the “spiritual” side of gardening, not the
“plants” side. And it is a little long for his “humor” side especially if
you are competing with his “regulars”. (Mike McG and Jeff Taylor)
Ok – have you thought about American Gardener, the Offshots column is often
funny. Or submitting to Country Living Gardener?
Now – on the writing – let me look at it some more. You have lots of great
raw material there – maybe you should write two or three “articles” from it.
Madgardener 2012-02-08 08:12:14
it had been submitted to him YEARS ago when I managed to get published first
time with him in the Winter issue of 1994. Then he accepted a broken trowel
piece that he said was truely funny and I got a subscription for my efforts.
the length of course is long. I have been stock piling my posts from the
newsgroup in hopes to eventually put ’em all together and possibly submit
them as a madgardener’s read. I dunno. I’m not too fulla confidence that
it’d sell but one never knows. I’ve had my moments of good writing. as for
wanted to a good home, it was windy and just a stoned ramble. I see why it
was rejected for his green prints. now on the other hand, despite the
length, my eulogy tribute last year about my Aunt Pearline’s passing and
inspiration if clipped might actually make it to his magazine/book but I’m
not willing to give up the rights to it for a mere $50. I would have loved
to have tried to send it to Reader’s Digest and gotten $300 for it but don’t
care one way or the other. It made my Aunt Jean cry and realize that once
again her niece was a writer and it felt good to have that kind of hug.
I wish someone would work with me. I’d truely like to do some writing and
get paid for it. But in the same breath I get tremendous emotional
satisfaction just writing to you guys. (read the circus is in towne on
google and you’ll see what I mean…….
keep in touch and let me know, and by the way, I adore Mike McG and he
thrilled me and answered my letter to him when he was editor at OG and that
was what REALLY launched me as a serious part time writer. He not only put
it in the Letters department, titled it, answered it but put it in the
contents part of the magazine. My best friend in Denver was reading her
issue and came across something familiar and discovered it was
then when the short lived but incredible Beautiful Gardens magazine was out,
I was featured on the outside cover and quoted just before they folded. I
hated to see that one go………………….
again, my thanks honey for your help.