Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writers' Island - Over the Horizon (behind me)

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.

15 comments:

jadey said...

Great pics of the petunias and of the pointsettas, I wish you much luck and hope that the green thumb will be passed down to you. I look forward to coming back to your blog.

Tammy said...

I've learned that it's all about the light and temperature each plant needs. Great gardeners know the secrets but it's all Greek to me. Lovely! XXOO

Inspired Tokens said...

It's nice to see the ground with no snow and beautiful colors. And, I'm learning not to think when I'm trying to be creative. Thinking I believe clouds the mind, don't you think?

Julie Marie said...

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Julie

Lea said...

He is a DH indeed! I too am curious as to how your plants fare... I love the story of your grandparents and father's gardens, the profusion of color, and how they did little to create such lush beauty... what a lesson to learn and to have green fingers... a blessing...

Wanda said...

How I wish I had a green thumb!
Annie, I love the picture on your profile...Very lovely:)

Julie Marie said...

what a great essay - linking the poinsettias and breaking the rules to creativity.

Julie

Gemma said...

What a lovely post and music to go with it!

DHLOL said...

Actually...Antonio and his son did put them in. I just told them where to do it as you had instructed me. :)

AnnieElf said...

Dearest DHLOL - in that case, you are an excellent director of placement. kiss kiss

Mary Timme said...

I will wait to see what new things come from your planting!

vicci said...

The plants are beautiful Annie...I hope they grow...no luck with them here...

Kahshe Cottager said...

What a lovely way to have Christmas last from year to year. I do hope that they grow for you Annie!

qualcosa di bello said...

my daddy had a glorious petunia bed too! thanks for pulling that memory to the surface on this grey winter day...

your don is indeed a dh!!!

tongue in cheek said...

Rocks and Petals both are needed softness and strenght.
Beautiful post Annie.