Monday, March 29, 2010

Garden of Deceit

You cannot be cynical if you are a gardener, especially if you are an aspiring plant snob like me and you lust after exotic and unusual flora from mail order catalogs. Gardening requires optimism, courage, and faith, as anyone who has ever received a bare-root plant by mail can attest. When you rip open the package and see the dead-looking twigs you spent $50.00 on, you need to dig down deep inside your soul and believe that, with proper love and attention, this twig will transform into the centerpiece of your garden, making you the envy of your neighborhood, and securing your reputation as a Goddess of Gardening forevermore. You also need to believe you will live long enough to see this happen.


I wasn't content to plant the same old pink saucer magnolias that all of my neighbors' yards were sporting, so I ordered a couple of Unusual Varieties from Wayside Gardens two years ago when I bought this house (and inherited the barren, neglected yard that came with it). Magnolia "Yellow Bird" was touted for its vivid yellow blooms that were supposed to appear later than the pink-flowered varieties, after the danger of late frost damage had passed. Yellow Bird was supposed to be a tall, narrow, compact variety, making it well suited for its intended location at the front corner of my house so that anyone driving down the street to our home would be welcomed with masses of yellow blooms each spring, and all of my neighbors would be able to see the tree and remark to one another about its beauty, it's novelty, and it's exquisite loveliness... Did I mention that the blooms are supposed to be yellow? In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, "Aaaaarrrgh!!!!!" I waited for two and a half years for this tree to get established and finally bloom, and now I finally have a flower, and it's PINK. Pink like Barbie, pink like Hello Kitty, and pink like every other saucer magnolia in the neighborhood. I hate pink. I've been had!



There is another Plant of Mystery in my garden, also from Wayside Gardens, and this one is even more maddening. I have longed for lilacs ever since moving to the South, but most varieties require colder winters than what we get here in Zone 7. So, about the same time that I ordered the Imposter Magnolia, I also ordered a lilac variety that was supposed to be well suited for my climate. Imagine -- lilacs in Charlotte, North Carolina! No one has lilacs in Charlotte, at least not any that I have seen in the eleven years that I've lived here. I ordered two plants, and gave one to my mother to plant at her house, just a few miles away from my own. Well, two years have gone by and although my mother's lilac has produced blooms each year, mine gives me nothing but leaves. My husband tries to placate me, pointing out that my plant appears healthier and much more robust than my mother's, and mine is certainly much larger now. He tells me that my mother's lilac is blooming out of despair because it thinks it is going to die and wants to try to reproduce to save the species (my husband has an active imagination). But I didn't order a lilac so that I could look at lilac leaves; I wanted to see and smell lilac flowers, for goodness' sake! How is anyone supposed to even know that it's a lilac if it doesn't bloom? It's not as though your average Charlottean can recognize a lilac from its foliage. That's my lilac in the photo, just a collection of healthy twigs sprouting boring green leaves. Grrr...

And yet, spring is in the air and getting under my skin as well. My daffodils are poking up and starting to bloom, and I've noticed some flower buds on the azaleas. The clematis that looked so dead through the winter has reawakened and looks as though it will bloom within the next week or two. I have pruned and sculpted my crape myrtles and find myself musing over which annuals to plant in the front beds this year. Will this be the year I finally get the window boxes I've always wanted? The magnolia and the lilac are disappointments, but I haven't given up on them yet. We'll see what they have to say at Wayside Garden's customer service department. Maybe next year I'll get those exotic spring flowers that I've been waiting for!

8 comments:

couturewindowfashions said...

Ah yes....those mail order catalogues with all the pretty pics of flowers. One year we decided to go crazy and ordered a bunch of flowers. The thing was, we actually planted one of the flowers upside down because we couldn't tell root from top! (I never claimed to know flowers) Wondered why it didn't flower that year. So I told hubby I think we have it upside down and so he replanted and guess what? I was right and now we have the most beautiful bleeding hearts!

Rebecca Grace said...

Tammi, you and I garden like Martha Stewart gardens: we pick the plants, we decide where we want them to go, and then we hand a shovel to an underling so he can do the dirty work while we take all the credit. Heh heh heh. To have and to hold and to dig all my holes, 'til death do us part!

jamesxvi said...

Hi Rebecca Grace! Welcome to blogging... you are off to a good start. My garden master plan will take years, and today the work consists mainly of getting rid of what shouldn't be there, including about 100 tons of trees (so that I can plant a thousand new ones) and moving lots of earth. There's a track hoe and bulldozer sitting out there now. Don't get me started... happy blogging.

James

Rebecca Grace said...

James -- thank you! Your project sounds overwhelming but fascinating. You obviously possess much more patience than I do, but I admire your vision. Enjoy the process!

Susan said...

Rebecca, Anyone who thinks they are "a writer" should read your blog and then reevaluate whether they are good enough to be in your league. I don't garden, and could care less what blooms in my yard as long as it covers the dirt and I don't have to mow it. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your gardening. Thanks for sending along the link!

Rebecca Grace said...

Aw, shucks, Scoozan -- aren't you sweet. I was just thinking warm fuzzy thoughts about you yesterday, too. :-)

Janice Whelan said...

Alas, you have changed my mind about starting a vegetable garden. James and I spent some time pouring over the latest mail order catalogue that came our way (could it have been Wayside Gardens) deciding which vegetables he would like to eat... Me completely forgetting how much effort is involved until now. I think I'll stick with what I've got- a flower bed with a pathetic showing of tulip shoots and a rather fat squirrel with a belly full of 300+ bulbs.

Rebecca Grace said...

Feed that squirrel to your dogs! A veggie garden for James is a great idea. Haven't you seen that Food Revolution reality show where they showed a group of midwestern elementary school kids a bunch of vegetables and the poor kids couldn't even identify a carrot, let alone an eggplant? Try purchasing just a couple of plants from a reputable local source to start out instead of ordering exotic seedlings. It will be easier that way and not as long for James to wait before his efforts bear fruition. Just make sure Brendan isn't spraying any pesticides on other plants near James' veggies.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...