Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sweet Success

After two entire seasons of columns dedicated to my gardening mishaps, you may be asking yourself a reasonable question:

Why does this woman continue gardening?  

In spite of all my frustrations and failures, I actually find a lot of peace in the garden.  The growing season coincides conveniently with the timeline of school break.  In the chaos of mothering three summer-struck monkeys, I sometimes (often) feel the urge to scream “Serenity now!”  By disappearing for a bit into the garden, the blessedly mute plant life soothes my frazzled nerves.   Emotional assistance aside, those mistakes in the garden serve a purpose.  They make the rare success that much sweeter.

Gateway to Serenity

One such success this year was Centranthus ruber.  The occasional hummingbird hovers into our yard, but being the greedy naturalist, I want more.  However, I’m also a lazy naturalist.  Too lazy, I’m afraid, to keep up with those sugar water contraptions, so I purchased Red Valerian (C. ruber) last fall.  I knew its long, rosy, tubular blossoms were just the ticket for my hummingbird habitat.  I planted it in the ground, planted myself beside the window, and kept my eyes peeled for the much-anticipated squadron.  Spring turned to summer, and still no sign of them.  Through the mist of my disappointment, I accepted the obvious: for whatever reason, the hummingbirds flew the coop.  They were probably miles away, well outside the range of Red Valerian’s wooing power. 

Later, while visiting with a fellow Irwinian, she complained about a family, a family, of hummingbirds that were destroying her hanging pots, trying to nest in them.  This is no long distance neighbor.  Her front porch is less than 10 seconds away, as the crow flies.  But, clearly, not as the hummingbird flies.  I must accept that I am not in tune with discriminating hummingbird palates - and this is sounding suspiciously like another one of my gardening failures - but wait!  Centranthus may have been snubbed by the bird world, but it turned out to be a surprising treat for this old girl.  Through all the heat of this impossible summer, and in spite of my dog’s best effort to trample them, those rosy blossoms have out-bloomed every other flower in my garden including the King of Longevity himself, Catmint.   I never thought anyone could usurp his throne, but Centranthus has done it.  Had I known all that I know now, I’d have bought three Red Valerians.  Too bad for the hummingbirds.  They don’t know what they’re missing.

Centranthus erupts behind King Catmint.  (Don't be mislead by Penstemon poking in there.
Centranthus has blue-green foliage.)  Carolina Lupine wraps up her tall spiky blooms in the distance.

In the spirit of the Olympics, I proudly set a new PR (personal record) this summer.   I finally conquered that raging case of Red Pepper Ineptitude.  Last year, I did harvest a red pepper – my first ever - although I wouldn’t call it a raving success.  It was, after all, October.  Still, we cock-eyed optimists must celebrate even the smallest of triumphs, particularly those five or more years in the making.  This year, however, I didn’t have to stretch far to reach my accomplishment.  It came right up and bit me in the biscuits this July.  July, did you say?  Why yes, yes I did.  And it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my dear friend, Gypsy Pepper.  I know the Olympic committee isn’t going to add Pepper Cultivation to the competitive events anytime soon, nor could I compete even if they did.  There will be no podium to climb, no medal to wear, no media frenzy to manage.  But as I kneel in my humble soil, picking my sweet Gypsies, I may hum a bar or two of the Star Spangled Banner. 

After being trampled by 90 pounds of raw canine determination her first year at Casa del Uftring, my Carolina Lupine (Thermopsis carolina) looked depressed.  Suicidal may be a more apt description.  The next season, I employed a tomato cage security guard to protect her from our heavily pawed pooch.  She recovered from the trauma of the previous season enough to reward me with her first set of 3’ butter-colored blooms.  It was like a ray of sunshine peaking from beneath the cloud of yesteryear.  This spring though, she stretched up even higher, until she was able to look me straight in the eye.  At that point, she burst out with an explosion of yellow firecracker blooms that continued to fizzle for two weeks.  The Victorian era is renowned for its development of the language of flowers, but I needed no translator for my sweet Caroline.  The sentiment was clear: “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for saving me from that four-legged steam-roller!”   Probably not what the Victorians had in mind, but it warmed my heart nonetheless.  Sweet success will do that for you.


Lyn said...

You had me excited there for a moment, thinking you had a purple-stemmed Valerian. And then I read the caption. They look good together, though, especially with your white picket fence behind them.

White Fence said...

Fences are seen in almost every neighborhood around our country. Homeowners choose to install fences for privacy, containment, security, and to mark their property line.

White Fence

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...