Poinsettias, Petunias, and a morning surprise
Every Christmas when poinsettias explode into glorious color, I remember my father and his green thumb, a gift he received from HIS father. Thinking of my grandfather reminds me of his vegetable garden filled to overflowing with beans and tomatoes and onions and carrots and cucumber and, and, and . . . But most of all, I remember the petunias.
Gram and gramps lived in a huge, two story bungalow style house with a full basement and a full attic. At the top of the driveway, to the left, was a double garage with its own walk-in door set into the garage door. I remember being fascinated by the door in a door. In some ways, I still am as I've never seen its like since that house.
Farther up to the very end of the driveway was another garage that stood separate from the house. It was big enough to hold one small car. The doors swung open, outward from the center. It was between these two garages that the flower bed - more precisely - a petunia bed - sprawled in all of its pink and purple and red and white glory. The colors collided together like northern lights in the highest latitudes. Gram and gramps tended that garden every year, nurturing it to brilliant life. I would pick petunias when they got leggy, managing to keep them fresh for about a day. Then I would go out for more as they faded. There was no danger of running out of petunias.
It wasn't until I was much older that I remembered this gift that dad had received from his father. Reflecting on this gift, I brought home five poinsettia plants left over from our annual Carolfest at school. I was reminded of the poinsettias dad planted on the side of our home in San Diego way back in the 60's. Thereafter, until they moved, the brilliant red plants would bloom every season. Looking back on it, I wonder how my dad did it. Dad wasn't a fussy gardener and he didn't coddle his gardens. Yet every year, without any fuss or special techniques, they would come back providing a blast of red from the edge of our property.
How hard could this really be? For years the "care of this plant" directions intimidated me. You know the one I'm talking about - cover them; maintain darkness and a limited temperature range for x number of weeks; and voila - red leaves will emerge. My big question was "Where was this magic supposed to happen?" And more then that - "Who had the time?"
Over the past few years, I learned that following the rules isn't necessarily the best way to go when one is thinking about creativity. So pursuing this idea, I decided to put the rescued poinsettias against the back fence. More precisely, I would have the yard guys put them in. Of course, it rained that weekend so no yard guys. But, Tuesday morning I awoke to the nicest surprise. Don put the plants in, God bless him. Yard work isn't DH's thing but he, I've concluded, is a secret designer. He's done so many little things over the years. Some worked, some didn't, but recently his efforts have been successful. So, keeping that in mind, I'll make sure the poinsettias are watered and get the occasional feed, but that's it. It will be interesting to see if breaking the rules of gardening will bear me the same success as my father and his father before him.