Another Hobby Blog

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Volunteer Plant

I have aspirations of tending a nice garden some day. When I'm dreaming big, I envision a hothouse with tomatoes and orchids, and a huge yard full of plants for the dyepot! A gazebo of stained wood with lots of gingerbread detail at the center where I can sit and knit and sip my tea. A little water garden or pond with a waterfall. Maybe some Koi. Definitely a frog or two. And a turtle. Must have a turtle. Maybe a hedge maze! maybe just a meditation path of painted tiles. An oriental garden section with nicely shaped trees and a well-groomed rock garden. A mossy path. A treehouse. Butterflies! and birds. Lots of birds. Hummingbirds! Swallows! Finches, Canada Geese. .. ducks of my very own, a chicken or two, and at least a pair of peacocks....

Most of the time I dream small. I'm not good with plants these days. I'm not sure I've ever been. I am the only person I know who has dehydrated a cactus and over-watered an asparagus fern.

My successes are hit-and-miss. I raised 13 lemon trees from seed to the age of three years before leaving them in the care of a friend while I went on vacation, only to come back home and find them all dead. I have successfully rooted African Violets from cut leaves. I have kept poinsettias alive through the following year's December. I have encouraged house orchids to bloom for multiple years.

I have also managed to lose through inattention and neglect: English Ivy, Diffenbachia, Spider Plants, and numerous other "easy care" plants.

I do have a theory: I was doing fine before my BFA degree overwhelmed me, and I lost all but the most stubborn of my plants during thesis quarter. I felt so bad and inadequate each time I lost one that I haven't really tried to replace any of them since.

(On a high note, the gerbils survived thesis quarter with health and vigor.)

The house plants caught scale and aphids. The house plants didn't recover well from being watered on the wrong schedules. The house plants suffered and perished. I'm a bad plant-mommy.

I do have a few stragglers still: one trailing vine, a few scraggly aloe (that I thought were dead for sure, but last time I watered them all but one revived nicely), a cactus, and a cute little flowering plant that I can't remember the name of but is my husband's plant--a gift from a friend, so I do my level best to keep it hanging on.

To tend my yard, I contract a gardener. He doesn't do much, but at least it's regular.

I really only try to keep up with one tiny corner of my yard: a planting strip maybe 5 feet by 12 feet between my sidewalk and my driveway. In this planting strip I have lots of bulbs: grape hyacinth, daffodils, tulips from Holland ( really, from the airport gift shop in Holland), irises, and some sort of weird orangy-red tropical plant (I bought one small pot with three teeny little plants in it. Now they're taking over! There are now at least fifteen of the little buggers, and they don't show any sign of ceasing to propagate!). I also have some sweet alyssum, some garlic, some oregano, and some thyme. And a Dusty Miller, and a few Heather bushes.

And a whole lot of weeds. I'm not very good at weeding... It's really difficult for me to pass judgement on who gets to stay and who has to leave. In part this is because I don't like passing judgement on life-or-death matters. In part it is because I can't tell for certain that "Yep, it's a weed, allright..." until the durn thing is rooted so deep that a mule team couldn't unearth it. (doesn't help that the bloody things break off at the soil line nine times out of ten!)

Anyway, at some point this year, in late winter or early spring, a volunteer plant showed up in my bulb bed. I have no idea what it is, only that it seems happy. It has huge fuzzy leaves that catch the dew and the raindrops. It seems impervious to slugs and other garden pests.

It is a mystery. As such, it makes me smile and wonder.

This week it has decided to grow buds. That probably means it will flower soon. Maybe then I will get to find out what it is.....


  • At Sat Sep 03, 10:49:00 PM PDT, Blogger laurie said…

    will i ruin the mystery if i tell you what it appears to be? ;o)

    your comment about the leaves catching the dew was a good clue...i suspect it's a variety of lady's mantle, and if i remember correctly in ages past the drops of dew collected off the leaves were supposed to have medicinal's scary having such a large shoebox of useless knowledge lol

    (for more info try googling either lady's mantle or Alchemilla)

    thanks for the blog comment...thought maybe i could return the favor ;o)


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