Archive for the 'flowers' Category

Red, not so wild roses

June 20, 2015

I wrote about the wild roses that grow on my property as a kind of more interesting sort of weed.

I have also recently noticed a new red rose bush, of the sort one buys at the nursery, has sprouted up among the rosa rugosa planted along the edge of the back path.  It’s not a rugosa, which do spread, by runners, I think, but more like a floribunda, with bright shiny dark green leaves, more-discretely-placed thorns, and more-sharply-shaped petals.

This is the third red rose bush to pop up.  One I think was a stow-away transplant in a block of earth we moved years ago from the backyard to the front in order to transplant a pink azalea it contained.  The pink azalea I think was near a red rose bush the previous owners of this house had planted.  So when a red rose bush started growing out from the pink azalea we transplanted, we were surprised but we could trace how it probably got there.  One was new growth from root stock after the pink rose grafted onto it had died back one winter.  This third one must have started from whatever roses germinate from — pips?

This third red rose bush started itself among a group of rose bushes, in a small bed in which pink cone flowers and orange day lilies have also appeared of their own accord.  A landscaper I hired one year to replant grub-infested areas of the back lawn had mulched in between and around the rugosa, creating a flower bed where before there had been just individual plants.  When Joe performed carpentry repairs on my house last summer, he unearthed a bunch of rocks, and I distributed some of them as edging around the mulched area.

At some point during Joe’s repair work on the house, I got out an old photo of the area near the shed, in order to figure out something or other, I can’t exactly remember what it was now, maybe it was to see how high an old shed door had hung — and Jordan was struck by how bare the area of the yard looked then compared to how it looks now.

That’s probably how the unexpected plants strike me, as part of an increasingly lush development of vegetation.

Not everything has gone in that direction, of course — the summer sweet in the large garden has died back a bit after this winter, and the butterfly bush is regrowing from its roots, while its old branches still bare.

I knew a prize-winning gardener, who told me that a lot of gardening is determining which, and how much of, plants should grow where, that it’s not about, “This plant is good, that plant is a bad weed.”  She, of course, maintained more control over her gardens than I do, and could coax growth and flowers from plants that need more care.  (On the other hand, after she sold her house and moved, the new owners of her house ripped out her gardens there and sodded and paved over the areas.  Sic transit gloria mundi.)  Her point about having a looser way to think about garden growth I have found helpful.

My reaction upon first realizing that a red, more refined-looking rose bush was growing among the hardy and slightly wild-looking rugosa was that it had strength to emerge in such a context.  I suspect, though, that it, too, is hardy in its own way, as the other two red rose bushes that popped up are quite effusive in their own growth  —  although two of the previous house owners’ red rose bushes have, over the years, succumbed (to too much shade, mainly).  So maybe that will be my take-away, that hardiness, maybe I could even characterize it as spunkiness, may lurk in seemingly decorative or delicately growing plants.



March 30, 2015

I have been listening to the Pine Hill Project’s performance of “Rain Just Falls” here, having heard it live at their concert last Saturday night.  I am mulling over the commentary with which Richard Shindell introduced the song at the concert, in which he pointed out that the song could be seen as making a case against intelligent design.

So I have been listening to the song, because I like the way it sounds and because I have recently discovered the treat of Larry Campbell instrumental solos, and trying to discern what I can hear behind the sung lyrics.

What I hear is that the rain does its thing when it falls — that’s its “job” or role, so to speak, to fall.  What happens next is not its issue, and if it supports flower growth, that’s a separate thing.  The focus on just falling maybe even allows it to fulfill its potential more effectively.

How to put together the fall of the rain with the nurture of the flower, well, I guess I would say that is done at a position outside that of the rain’s and the flower’s respective roles, if it is done at all.  The rain doesn’t fall with awareness of a connection between the rain falling and the flower growing.  That doesn’t exhaust the issue of whether a connection between the two activities is perceived at all;  maybe the question is really about whether putting together the two activities is done at all, according to the song.

The sequence of rain falling and flowers growing certainly forms an observable pattern.  If someone is there to observe the pattern, I think the pattern can have significance even if there’s no strong intentionality to it.  If we see sequence as completely random and coincidental instead, I suspect we have gone to far in the other direction and thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

That’s where I am right now in mulling this over.

Lovely concert musically last Saturday night, an extra perk to have given us food for thought.

Expelling the garden

September 1, 2014

There’s the story of being expelled from the Garden, and then there’s this other pattern, which keeps attracting my attention, so I thought I’d write about it to see if maybe writing about it will help me see why it catches my attention.

It’s when the garden gets expelled.

A neighbor I had been friendly with sold her house and moved almost a year ago, and the new owners of the house uprooted her robust and eye-catching front yard garden.  A similar use of front yard space was similarly removed from another house nearby, when it too changed hands.  In both cases, sod was put down, in one case a few rose bushes were planted as well.

Our house came with a large garden, which had been used to grow vegetables.  We knew we weren’t up to the task, so we had some friends help us out and plant perennial flowers in the garden bed instead, which we then added to as needed over the years.  Some time after Willy died, I reduced the size of what needed to be tended by planting some flowering ornamental shrubs in the back half of the garden, plants such as a butterfly bush and summer sweet.

Today I was on my way to walk in some woods on conservation land on the Lexington border with my town, and I passed a house which has had notable front yard gardening in the past.  In fact, the gardeners there I think competed with my erstwhile neighbor of the uprooted front yard garden, for gardening prizes in communal gardening space out in Lincoln, MA.  I’m not sure they got along with each other, but they all could garden up a storm.  Serious gardeners, serious gardening.

What had been lushly gardened was now just mulch.  No flowers, no cairns — and nothing in the entryway either, where there used to be artifacts from nature displayed in the windows.  Looked like the second floor of the house was vacant, too.  I guess they moved.  Whether they took their garden with them, I don’t know.  Perhaps the house is a two-family rental and the owner is responsible and cleaned out the gardened areas, perhaps the couple sold a condo, I have no idea.  But the garden is gone, lock, stock, and barrel.

I am also aware of the reverse pattern.  The backyard of my parents’ house was sunny and grassy, with a few trees, but pretty plain, and by now it has become shaded, mossy, and woodsy.  My yard used to be plainer and grassier, too, and now it has more plantings, flowers, and shrubs, some intentional, some courtesy of nature.  Those transformations happened over time, decades of years, in fact.

So I think it’s abruptness that gets my attention, and going from lush to plain, and also a transformation that seems to cover over something that came before  —  I think those are the elements that catch my attention.  Maybe they catch my attention because they seem to me, or to my imagination, to “hide” something, and something important.  That’s my best guess for now.


Flowering in the compost heap

July 18, 2014

I went out to the compost heap, which is in a back corner of my backyard and under the shade of a neighbor’s tree, so it’s kind of hard to see what’s going on in it from a distance.

I went to put some peach pits into it, and I noticed some burnt-orange-colored day lilies growing out of it.

The day lilies are probably from the bunch of invasive flowers that had taken over one of my gardens that I dug out (most of) a few weeks ago and replaced with some more interesting specimens of flowers.  But the day lilies, and those things that flower in purple clusters, were not flowering then.

So it’s kind of a nice surprise that the day lilies took in the compost heap and bloomed.

A kind of recycling, even if they didn’t actually go to dust first, before they revived.


May 9, 2014

I have an old scented geranium that resides on a potting bench inside during the chilly weather but takes its summers out of doors.  Its leaves smell great.  It rarely flowers, hasn’t flowered for probably a decade.

Just now I was talking on the phone and during the conversation I noticed flowers opening on it.  Wow.

I had actually been pondering a different kind of regrowth issue, one I’ve probably written about before:  when a plant involving a graft dies back to the root stock and then regrows from there.  The regrowth is less “ornamental” — straight shoots instead of curly, a more common petal color or arrangement, and so on.  I was wondering if we sometimes have a hard time letting go of the ego self we have developed and all its ornaments and don’t want to “die back” to a simpler, core version of ourselves and regrow from that.  We liked the ornamental look, perhaps, or maybe it went unacknowledged or underappreciated, and so it was held onto in a wait for that acknowledgement and appreciation from others.

The re-flowering of the geranium presents a different image, of something beautiful that was dormant coming forth again.  That’s an easier image, perhaps an easier process to accept.

In any event, my sons and I were discussing Mother’s Day, and they wanted to know what I might like.  I mentioned, among other things, that flowers might be nice.  I got some already, so it seems.

Flower openings

December 6, 2013

The flower arrangement sitting on my kitchen table is now over a week old.  Some of the flowers are doing better than others, a Gerbera Daisy and a freesia small lily blossom I had to behead and put directly into water.

The stem of lilies (my favorite — pink with a spicy smell) is behaving in a way I don’t quite understand.  It came with a number of unopened buds, in various stages of unopenness.  Some began to open, but not quickly.  I removed a spent bloom in case that was holding things up, but the buds would begin to open and then start to deteriorate — edges of petals turning brown and wrinkling.

So I removed the lily stalk from the arrangement, cut a bit off the end of the stem, and put it directly into water, in a vase.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen next with it.

I don’t know whether the problem is in the lily stalk, what happened to it since it was disconnected from its bulb, the fact that it was stuck into a foam cube and doesn’t get adequate water that way, despite my keeping an generous amount of water in the container holding the foam, or what;  my usual experience with lily buds is that they open, and open completely, if they are past a certain stage in development when the stalk is harvested.

But what I’m observing with this stalk reminds me of some people I’ve known, people who never seem to fully blossom, people who begin to bloom and get stuck, regress, wither, and collapse.  Don’t know why that happens either, but I wonder if access to emotional nourishment is a factor.  Some people get enough emotional nourishment from other people, I think, from their relationships with other people, that is.  Some people have greater needs, and being stuck in that green foam cube of a nexus with other people is not enough.  Direct connection with greater nourishment is needed, it seems, and people who can connect with God or the universe sometimes find a way to bloom that way, I’ve seen.


December 3, 2013

It’s late fall and not really the season for flowers, although there’s an arrangement still sitting on my kitchen table from last week’s holiday festivities.  I mentioned in a news comment I wrote this morning the flower whose head I had to cut off and put directly in water because it was drooping — if David Brooks can talk about the government as the stem to a flower in his column (“The Stem and the Flower” today in the NYTimes), then I’m going to mention my literal experience with bloom and stem last week.  (And quite robust examples of stem and bloom because it was a Gerbera Daisy.  What I ended up doing with it was kind of silly, but it worked;  I put the bloom in a small bowl that happened also to have red petals on the sides of it, albeit painted petals, and then I put the whole thing on the platform of Jordan’s Keurig coffee machine, because it’s black and I liked the way the color contrast looked.)

So then Jordan shows up this afternoon with Chanukah presents for me, and one is an embroidered guest towel that has five lovely tall flowers and the words “Home is where your Mom is” stitched on it.  Prominent stems, on the flowers, done with a chain stitch, petals stitched purple, magenta, and pink on three of the blooms, petals in blue on the other two blooms.  And it’s got pom-pom trim in peacock blue along the bottom edge (maybe they’re the roots?).

So flowers it is, even if it’s autumn.

Grace and gardening

August 5, 2013

I was looking at my big garden this morning, and admiring all the tiger lilies among the cone flowers, bee balm, black eyed Susans, purple balloon flowers, etc.  And it occurred to me that there didn’t used to be so many tiger lilies in that garden.  I don’t actually know how tiger lilies propagate.  But the garden looked so beautiful to me (others would probably find it a tad too unkempt or unkept), and I thought, considering how much effort I put into maintaining the garden, maybe there’s some grace involved.

Not my birthday

July 31, 2013

Yesterday felt like my birthday, only it wasn’t, not even close.

The biggest reasons it felt that way was that I got a laptop computer, and there’s a bunch of some of my favorite flowers in my dining room, perfuming it.  And I didn’t (directly) pay for either.

The flowers are lilies from my garden, four Star Gazer blooms and seven white lily blooms.  The Star Gazer lilies I did buy last year, but here they are again this year, re-sprouted — I didn’t do that.  The white lilies I don’t know who planted.  They seem to appear sporadically, some years and not others, and neither Willy nor I could remember choosing them or planting them.  They surprised us ten years ago, the summer he died (I remember asking him about them and cutting one for his room), and here they are again.

The laptop is my first.  I know I’m late to the party, but I only even got this one by being backed into it (I’m typing this post on it);  my father’s computer stopped working, both CPU and monitor, and I kind of need computer access while I visit my mother (including during next week’s trip) — wouldn’t make much sense not to be able to pay her bills electronically while I’m there in NJ, when I can do it while I’m up here in Massachusetts.

So I asked Tony to find me something used and appropriate (pretty basic), and he did, and my mother offered to pay for it.

But it wasn’t the payment issue that made it feel like a present — somehow getting it reminded me of getting a bicycle for my birthday, the same kind of thrilling.  And I’m no technophile, so I don’t think it had to do with the laptop itself.  So, too, with the flowers.  I love their robustness and scent, how they perfume the house even beyond the room they’re in, but somehow when I just look at them, especially when the sunlight is bathing them, I feel so thrilled, way beyond what I can explain.

I do notice birthdays this time of year.  Jonas’ official one is next week, and maybe because he has birth certificate issues (it’s quite legal and proper, but it is court created, not a record of the facts of his birth), I think of President Obama’s birthday, too, which I think is even sooner (his birth certificate issues were manufactured in a quite different way, of course).  Then there are two other gentlemen born around the same time as Obama — same year, I think — who, or whose work, have loomed large in my life:  Richard Shindell and David Brooks.

So happy birthday to all of them, while I enjoy my computer and flowers, for whatever reason.


March 13, 2013

That’s what my dad called the plural of crocus, the little spring flowers that grow from bulbs.  And yes, he, too, took Latin (and apparently won medals in high school for his achievements — my mother gave me some after his death).  He saw the word as part of the second declension.  He referred to more than one Kleenex as Kleeneses, putting that noun in the third declension.

Anyway, I saw my first crocuses of the season today, little light purple ones.  And someone put a vase of (forced?) forsythia in the ladies’ room we use at the hospice where I volunteer.  On the bike path the other day I was nearly sideswiped by a bundle of pussy willows in a bike rider’s backpack.

So spring is sort of here, even if there is still snow on the ground.