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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Painting with Flowers

And the  answer is yes, things and places, as well as people,can and do play significant roles in our lives.

      Flowers are playing an increasingly important role in my life, these halcyon summer days.
      I am a writer, but writing times and ideas often slip away as I bemoan a longstanding lack of discipline. Even during diligent spurts, I am as likely to take snack breaks, do my laundry, dabble in art projects or tend to the plants.  Each summer, pots on the deck, a narrow bed running along our front porch, and circles near and around trees in the front of the house become home to new and old varieties of plants, mostly annuals, varying according to my husband's and my annual whims and preferences.
      This year I've claimed the narrow bed in front, as well as a garden in back deck pots, as "my" turf.  Eying my neighbor Sue's ever-blooming profusion of varieties, faux-fenced at a corner of her sidewalk, I strive for a rich palate of colors, leaves or blooms, in the 3 X 15 foot bed along our narrow, shady front porch.  An overhanging roof not only lends shade, but prevents most rain from watering these flowers. So I treat them to water from the hose, or, along with Miracle-gro, from a watering can, at least every other day.  With the hose, water is easily brought to the circles (there are six of them, planted and tended by others), as well. 
     But my intentions and attention are focused on the long bed next to the front porch.  I'm  really 'getting into it' this year  Every time I pass, I stop to see how things are doing:  Any dry leaves to remove? Are the geraniums, on their puny root systems, strong enough to stand?  Do I have enough deep-throated flowers to attract humming birds?  What's the name of that maroon-green one that looks like Coleus, though it's not?  Fortunately I'd stuck the greenhouse tag nearby:  it's Hypoester, red.  Too bad it's so short, but it's shade-loving, and I had to plant it behind older, taller ones.  Do I cut only the dried-up Iris blooms or the whole flower stem?  This scalloped trailing plant is pretty, but it's a weed which winds around the roots of pedigreed plants; can I train a single sprig to line the shady back of the bed?  Is it too late to stop gracefully drooping Iris leaves from careening into the newer, more delicate, varieties?  Though intentionally apparently random, are the colors balanced?  
     At the end of the bed, where an overabundance of sunshine dries the soil quickly, and where a young Nasturtium as quickly died, I planted fragrant Lavender and sturdy, golden Cosmos.  The Impatiens were all supposed to be vermillion, but they turn out to be several hues of lavendars and pinks. Overall, there don't seem to be enough yellows to relieve these and the opulent reds of the scarlet Geranium majority.  Hmmm.
     Back to the early summer greenhouse tent in the parking lot of the supermarket, where all remaining plants are now priced at fifty percent off.  Bring home new varieties. Dig, scrape, carry, fill, pat, water. Ah, finally  we have them, among the red, pink, lavendar, and front row greens: happy yellows of Pansy, Golddust and Superbells, the latter two, thank goodness, short, catchy names for hybrid Mecardonia and Calibrachoa.  It's almost like I am painting with the flowers, arranging colors in a defined space.
      I've even dug up and moved a couple plants around...  they still won't always 'behave' the way I'd like, because nature tends to have its own way.  And that's a good lesson for me.  I strive to adjust, but at the same time, it's fun to try and second-guess nature's plan.   Yesterday I finally articulated a growing realization that, along with successful gardening and its requisite regular attention and care: voila, I am practicing discipline!  And so it is with renewed interest, as though with a lexicon or palette, I study painting my garden. I meditate, observe, learn, and grow. With flowers!

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