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Drowning in Flowers

Monday, April 27, 2009

The hawthorn hedge is snowing white petals.

Why is it that, just when everything starts to go nuts outside, my orchids inside do too? Couldn't I get a little flower love in January and February? Nope, it all comes at once. I hardly know what to do.

The last daffodils are fading outside. Only late pink Salome and a few King Alfreds and smaller narcissus are still hanging on. I wanted to share some photos of our daffodils this year, because never has there been a finer year for bulbs in southern Ohio. The flowers are huge and abundant, the leaves tall and long. The growing conditions last year suited them just fine, I suspect.

My mother-in-law Elsa Thompson, Publisher Emeritus of Bird Watcher's Digest, is a great gardener, and a respecter of old things, fine things. She has an extraordinary eye for beauty.
She's also a fabulous cook, and sets a mean Easter table.For years, the big house right across the alley from the Thompsons was owned by two elderly sisters who grew beautiful flowers. When the sisters died, the house was sold, and Elsa was horrified to see the new homeowner ripping out the ladies' daffodils--in full bloom--and throwing them out into the alley.

For some people, nothing, or concrete, suits them better than beauty. I don't pretend to understand them, but they're generally the ones with the overactive weedwhackers, the chemical lawns and the perfectly trimmed ball-shaped shrubs. The ones who consider birds sort of a nuisance, like blooming daffodils. My friend Rob put up a bluebird box in a woman's Connecticut backyard. The bluebirds nested successfully, but when the babies came out and sat on the deck railing, she asked Rob to take the box down so the bluebirds wouldn't nest again. Why? The bluebirds were pooping on her railing, and that made her mad, because she had to go out and hose it off every day. Well, he took the box down, because nobody who can think that way deserves bluebirds on their deck railing. These are the folks who are missing out on all the best things in life. As my father would say in his most pious voice, "They are more to be pitied than censured."

Elsa hurried out and gathered the dying bulbs and put them in shopping bags, and being out of room in her own garden, she gave them to Bill and me for our farm. "I know these don't look like much now, but they're very special daffodils--all fancy kinds. You'll love them." I looked at the withered leaves and wondered if they'd survive the insult, having been dug up in the height of bloom. Bill dug a long trench and we dropped the bulbs in and covered them over and watered them. That was about ten years ago.

They lived.And they are loved.

Liam is not to be pitied; he eats a ripe pear, up to his eyeballs in flowers, and loving it in an offhand, nine-year-old boy way. He's always been surrounded by flowers.

Speaking of flower rescue, I found this exquisite creature at a big box store in February. I had to get it out of there. And I got one for Elsa, too. They're both blooming their heads off for us, even putting out more buds from the tips! Orchids know when they're appreciated.

Psychopsis mendenhall
"Hildos" is working on its tenth flower since last June. That's an average of one a month, all year long, all off the same 3' tall stalk. You have to love an orchid like that. And I do, I do.
Party on wit yo bad self, little Kabuki lobster clown dude.

Laeliocattleya Firedance "Patricia" is unequivocal about her color.
As is my elegant huge purple Phalaenopsis, one of the first orchids I ever got, as a tiny baby from Shila.
I love the intricate ones.
Back in the bedroom, everything's going nuts, as usual in April.
While outside, the hot wind is whipping lilac flowers open. This enormous lilac is another heirloom from Bill's family, via Elsa. It's 15 feet tall now, planted right outside my studio windows, and the room is full of the perfume of lilacs. I told you she knows the good stuff.

I'm overloading. If only I could parcel it out from November to March. Just drowning in flowers.


At first, I didn't like daffodils--only bloom in spring and then the foliage dies off. But then I smelled them!! And saw the amazing colors! WOW. I now can't wait until the fall so I can buy and plant new colors--then I can't wait until spring.
Julie-I think of you whenever I see orchids at the box stores--I see some that are just gorgeous--but I'm afraid I would kill them.

Happy Spring

Sandy B

Dude. If they don't get bought, they're definitely going to die in the store. At least they can die with someone who cares. Take the plunge! Who knows--you might have a knack for it. And I'm always here to help.

That story about the bluebirds is incredibly sad, but man, you made up for it with truly gorgeous flower photos.

Up here in central Ohio the trout lilies in the woods are done but the trilliums and Jack-in-the-pulpits (Jacks-in-the-pulpit?) are going nuts, and the wild strawberries are starting as well. I'm moving in a couple weeks and so sad to think this could my last Ohio spring.

You definitely are ODing on flowers.
WOW--those orchids are such show-offs.
I love the daffodil story. I didn't do anything quite so heroic, but I have one of those orderly neighbors--and last weekend she dug up a flower bed of perennials. I scooped them all up, and put them on Freecycle. Within an hour I had 12 takers for the box full. I told my neighbor--in hopes that should she go digging elsewhere, she will offer me the flowers to rescue for someone.

(1) Do we have the same father?
(2) How do you feel about perfectly trimmed salamander hedges?

So glad to hear the story about the daffodils. I love them too. Now, poor little Nobby's Amy? Leaves, leaves, leaves... but, alas, no bloom stems ever. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Maybe it's the wrong window?

I don't understand people that don't like flowers or trees in their garden. When my current neighbor moved in she had 8 trees removed from her garden. Claims she didn't want any leaves in her garden. I cried. I couldn't believe what I saw was happening.

Lisa, I know. I have heard people talk about trees only in the vein of how much "mess" they make. As if it's all about keeping everything neat and tidy. Which it is, for some people. I have often thought that Marietta should have a committee that goes around and catalogues all the amazing trees around town, then notifies any new homeowner that there will be a fine for cutting them down.

Beautiful orchids! I'm convinced now, and will buy myself one today..there, decision made. Thanks!

If you're ever birding in southern California, you should make your way to Gublers Orchids in Landers, north of Yucca Valley, which is north of Palm Springs. You can bird the Salton Sea and Big Morongo Canyon Preserve ... oh, there goes a Cal Thrasher in my yard! .... and then take a side trip to the unlikely wonder of a huge orchid producer's Quonset hut nursery in the middle of a landscape of creosote, Joshua Trees, and 100-plus degree temperatures!!

Ahhhhh, it's happening! All that dirty snow finally melted, the goldfinches and grosbeaks and peepers are back, and I even have a phoebe nest under my back eave. Life is good.

I'm vowing to enjoy it to the utmost while I can as we may be moving in with my Mom in July. It will be a heartbreaker to leave our house on the pond in the woods and all the birds I'm getting to know. But on the flip side, thank goodness for mothers with houses and open hearts in this economy (and always)!
I'll enjoy getting to know her birds and fixing up her (extremely un-neat) suburban yard and back garden.

Maybe I'll even buy an orchid :)

A lot of my daffodils and snowdrops were purloined from once-loved properties slated for development. On Saturday, I carried out a bulb rescue on another one where a cute bungalow had been bulldozed to make way for The Shoppes at White Clay Pointe. (I still can't figure out the pointe of adding extra vowels and consonants, but developer weasels seem to think it's the signage equivalent of the raised pinky at tea. Classy, huh?)

Anyway, my bucket runneth over with grape hyacinths, and I'm headed back for more.

That bluebird story reminded me of a woman I sat next to at a business lunch. She professed to love gardening, but found worms frightening, so she asked her husband to find something to kill them. Once I cleared bread I'd been chewing from my windpipe, I tried to explain -- as nicely as possible -- how absolutely crazy that was, and why worms are vital to the health of the soil and her garden. It was like trying to convince Pat Buchanan to join Move On.

Oh, Jen. I'm so sorry to hear you might be moving. Do keep me posted. I'll be thinking of you.

Catbird, it can be a frightening thing to speak to someone so far outside the pale of the natural world. How anyone could garden and be afraid of earthworms, I can't understand, but the human is a strange, strange beast. Squeamishness is the most useless of our emotions.

And I agree about the extra vowels on those horrid sluburban housing developments and malls. If you have to add vowels to make sure people know you're classy, you aren't.

Ah, Julie! I love you and needed this as it has been very grey and dingy here.


So love to see the Drowning in Flowers. SO pretty flowers. i really liked it. Thanks for sharing here..

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