July 22, 2012

Perversity

I am going to show you two perversities in my garden. Plants behaving independently and against all plans.

The first is a follow up to my last post, where I got all excited about the hedge of bottlebrush buckeyes (Aesculus parviflora) growing along the back line of my property. They are blooming recklessly now, in big bottlebrush shaped spikes.

All except one.  There are five plants in this row. For three years now, consistently, the second one from the left blooms a full two weeks after the others.

In fact, the candles of the other four shrubs will have extinguished and begun to form their buckeye nuts just as the second one from the left opens its blooms. This has happened every year.

Okay, it extends the bloom period into August, with that last shrub showing off by itself for weeks after the others are gone. But this is a hedge --- a row of all one kind of plant. It is all supposed to be in bloom at once.

Nothing looks different about the tardy one, but I think it may be a special cultivar --- var. serotina, or a named variety, 'Rogers'. Those are reputed to bloom two to three weeks later than the species. It's possible that's what got mixed in with my mail order shipment from Nature Hills when these were sent to me in 2007.

One of these is not like the others, even though they all look alike. I think I got four species plants and one later blooming cultivar. It could be a supplier mistake, but it might just be plant mischief.

The second perversity involves the simple annual, Nicotiana alata, or flowering tobacco. I bought flats this year of these pretty, fragrant flowers, in shades of soft pink, and they all died. They all got a disease and did not thrive. All were removed and disposed of in the trash so the disease would not spread.

Then, this morning, on a trip to the compost pile, I noticed a stand of white flowering tobacco, happily growing by the grass clippings.

Is that perverse, or what? I try to grow something and have no success, but wildings pop up wherever they want to.

I transplanted the clump from the compost pile into my garden, in front of the patio wall where I can smell it up close in the evening.

It will probably get all funny on me and refuse to live anywhere else but the grass clipping heap. Already it has closed its trumpets in protest over the transplant.

The late flowering buckeye and the wild flowering tobacco are reminders that I am not in control in my own garden. The plants are.

At least I know it.

 

15 comments:

  1. It does appear that you have rebels trying to take over your garden. I am usually charmed by the rebels that invade the garden. All except the ones that the squirrels plant. Grrrrrrrr

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    1. Lisa, at least these are not invaders, just plants with their own minds : )

      I do have a fair number of invaders too, and grrrr is the word.

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  2. Nature always reminds us who is in charge doesn't she! I'm always amazed at what I find growing in my compost or completely neglected parts of the property.

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    1. Marguerite, the compost pile should not be hidden away. It should be attractively sited for everyone's enjoyment to see what grows there!

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  3. I love how naughty and free spirited your plants are. :o) They definitely have an independent streak. I bought a nicotiana called Deep Perfume Purple and it has almost no fragrance at all but the compost germinated canteloupe growing in my front garden makes up for it!

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    1. Tammy, so far my transplanted nicotiana has no fragrance but I know the plain white flowering tobacco always has a lovely noticeable scent. Do they withhold fragrance during periods of shock, for example right when they are transplanted? I wonder.

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  4. Ahhh, compost gardening, one of the many ways nature both surprises and humbles us, Laurrie. You may wind up doing what I do – plant reluctant bloomers in the compost with a threat and a hope they'll colorfully come to life. Usually, however, they read your mind and decay away.

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    1. Lee, compost gardening is an entirely neglected area of horticulture! We should put our compost piles in a prominent spot and enjoy all the wonderful treasures that grow there without our planting any of them : )

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    2. Good idea, Laurrie. Instead, many of us put them out of sight. My next one will be close to the rest of the action.

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  5. I would rather think of your misbehaved plant as having a strong personality and a personal sense of time than as a mix up in the order.
    The latter would be just to annoying!

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    1. Ruth, I agree! I'm miffed that I might have gotten a mistake in my order and only found out years later. I like your interpretation better -- a strong willed prima donna of a plant.

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  6. I love this essay. The garden holds so many surprises doesn't it? Every year I discover one-never more than one - sweet annie, growing somewhere in my yard. It's always a surprise where it will show itself. I leave it alone and harvest the branches for wreath-making at the end of the summer. It smells wonderful!

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    1. Barbara, it is fun to see where nature wants to plant her things. And some surprises work out really well --- better than any plant combinations or locations that the gardener picks.

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  7. I've noticed this perversity in some of my plants, too, and often wondered what was going on. You're probably right that your late-blooming buckeye is probably a different cultivar; either that, or it's just a rebel.

    You never know what's going to pop up in a compost pile; for the past several years, the prettiest--and healthiest--of my hollyhocks has been growing in the compost heap. As for your nicotania, I could have supplied you with all the seedlings you could have wanted! If your transplant survives, you'll probably have more of them next year without having to buy another plant--trust me:)

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    1. Rose, I am really aggressive about weeding and mulching in early spring, so I eliminate a lot of self seeders in my garden. I'll have to let the area where I put this little clump of nicotiana go next spring and see what pops up! How nice that you can enjoy a healthy hollyhock... even if it's only in the compost pile : )

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