Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gardens and mortality

Just finished watering the plants, the sky again hard blue and not yielding a thing. The snow I grew up with ... and the mists and damps of the West Virginia mountains ... didn't prepare me for Piedmont summers when the red clay turns itself into bricks. So I water, and weed, and prop. Jack doesn't like floppy plants (read: wildlings or close to wild) so I keep having to offer excuses for the foamflower and the Peruvian lilies that sprawl and lollop between stauncher plants.
We just added some more Stella d'Oro, a plant surely anyone could love for its cheery persistence, and blue potato bush.
"I like plants that stand up," Jack said as he watered the Stellas. We have a division of labor - he arranges, I dig, he waters, I weed. He has a better eye for landscaping but not such close discrimination between young hellebores and the random cherry seedlings.
He also doesn't care for plants that fade, leaving yellowing clumps of leaves, or for the foundlings that I try to make grow when they don't have the heart for it. He's not into salvage. If it looks dead, it is dead. As for me, I like to bring things back from the edge, maybe because I know very well how plants die even when conditions are right.
I remember my father's pine tree. The Christmas before they left West Virginia, my father stuck the unwanted artificial Christmas tree in the front yard - temporarily, to hold treats for the birds. But it looked pretty good there, so he planted the plastic base and made like it was the real thing. It was a small running joke on the neighbors for those months, perfectly green, perfectly shaped. I wonder if it's still standing at the corner of Route 73 and Prickett's Fort Road. It sure does stand up straight.

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