Sunday, September 22, 2013

Teamwork Is Power When Talkin' Flowers

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

Now about this flower thing we were talking about…

Sometimes I feel so lost in the world of flower gardening…overwhelmed.

Covered in kudzu.

No confidence. Couldn’t sell a fried pie to a fat man.

But time waits for no man, and decisions have to be made. That’s where you come in, fellow flower lover.

Welcome to the first day of autumn!, or, as we call it in north Louisiana, “still July.” Sure enough though, the days are getting a bit cooler, and certainly they are getting shorter. A true autumn season will come. Might not be until Thanksgiving, but it’ll get here.

Seems like most everything else in fashion gets to us late. Why should the change from summer to fall be any different?

In a nutshell, I got my money’s worth out of this summer’s blooms. More, by leaps and bounds and blossoms, than I’d hoped. And some are hanging in there, which I’ve noted and charted.

But if I took a team picture, our summer flowers – mine and yours -- now look, for the most part, like 1970s San Diego Padres’ jerseys. If you are not either a San Diego fan or a baseball fan and can’t grasp the reference, think Cleveland Browns. Or Taco Bell. Bingo. Are your begonias supposed to look like refried beans? Are those petunias, or half-eaten burritos?

It’s a jungle out there.

I wrote an “Ode To Summer’s Passing Flowers” a month ago. (You know who has the name for such poetic work?: Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “’Twas barren in my garden/And I said, Will you pardon/Me whilst I dig a hole/To climb into?...”)

Many of you told me I must have been peeking into your flowerpots. So my guess is that you, too, are caught in this wonderful seasonal transition that demands both timing and precise decisions. And, if you can afford it, some really good landscape mix.

So far, it’s been slow goings on advice at this bureau. Recently I asked a dear friend, a charming Southern lady, for some pointers. She is, after all, in a “Garden Club.” She laughed at me as if I had purple iris growing out of both ears and dianthus out of my nostrils.

“Dear, we don’t know anything about DIRT,” she said, leaning in, her fingers now on my shoulder. “It’s really more of a BOOK club. Or a wine club. Don’t you SEE?”

One day when I decide what trees to plant, I might have her over so she can read and sip mint juleps in the shade. Meanwhile, I asked her to call me when their Book of the Month had anything to do with knockout roses or how to get a confederate jasmine to grow up the side of my bricked garage.

So what are YOU planting? And where? And why? Tell me by email or shoot me a photo by Twitter @MamaLuvsManning. (Momma, like Ernest T. Bass, was “torn right between them two loves” Sunday when Denver played at the Football New York Giants, but that’s another story. Like the periwinkle in our back yard, she survived.)

I need some groundcover. I need to ponder some border plants. And some color like black-eye Susan maybe? Coreopsis? Goldenrod? Russian sage? True geranium? Counterfeit geranium?

I’m thinking perennial too. And also some trees. A hickory? That fall yellow sure is pretty. Pink dogwood. Kwanzan cherry. What about a crabapple? Some sort of ash? And three little fruit trees. But which?

Help me to keep from having just a pot of pansies.