Wanted: to a good home............

This is another attempt to rewrite a piece I did a few years ago. I came across it and decided to give it one last whack. I hope it will do. Remember it's from a time past and I've moved onward since then. So settle back, grab a glass of sweet tea and give it a read. And let me know what you think. I love critism! This was rejected by Pat Stone for Weeders Digest and rereading it I see why. This is my attempt at another try. Lets hope this one works and flows better..........
Wanted: to a good home..........
Have you ever noticed that some flowers are downright sneaky? I have always said that I never met a flower that I didn't like. But I've begun to re-think those words to live by creedo that I've put onto my gardening madness lifestyle. And did you ever notice that once you decide to get into gardening, that it eventually begins to take over? I've never really met a part-time gardener. No, we're all pretty much the rabid, foaming at the mouth, gotta have more, "isn't that one neat? How big will that one get? Does it bloom alot? Have you got a piece of that one to share with me? I'll give you some of mine! " kind of people.
I think that gardening affects us linda like what that ONE vining groundcover I bought one year did in the spot I thought I'd plant it in. Lamium, variety "Variegatum". Yep, gardening creeps up on us like that really neat little varigated vine did, never suspecting that it'll take over other area's of our lives.
My one Lamium plant has thrown long arms of daughters, each with their own plans of domination as far away as four feet. Has decided to broad-jump the sidewalk via the crack at the end of the before mentioned sidewalk to conquer the OTHER flowerbeds. And since writing this, it has completely taken a foot hold on a whole bed and is marching westward to the pastures beyond. The same applies to other flowers that have entered my life, or should I saw, flowerbeds? No.....life is more final.
I adore Cleome spinosa, aka Spider flowers. The first time I saw them, I snuck into the yard where they were growing and gathered a few seed and planted them in my new but rapidly filling flowerbed in Nashville I had lovingly started calling "Fairy gardens". For my thievery, I was amply rewarded with tens upon tens of the pink variety. Which quickly succumbed to domination by just five. Ahhhh, but those five were awesome.
They grew to be well over five foot tall, with multiple branching arms that reached out, draped over, and dangled across a space of over four feet. And at that time, I was thrilled by the cute seed pods dangling at the ends of thin threads, ever reaching higher as it bloomed, seeded, bloomed, seeded, etc all summer. GREAT!! A flower that blooms all Summer!! I want more! Well be careful what you wish for.
That was also the year I liked them because a new neighbor moved in across the driveway with a tromping on everything 4 year old son. I showed him one day after his ball came crashing into my flowerbeds yet again that "my flowers bite" and when he gave me the standard response of "uh uhhhh" I had him lightly touch the Cleome as proof (as you know, little boys DEMAND PROOF anyway, I raised two of 'em, I know that for fact!). I NEVER had a problem with Derrik's balls and toys winding up in my flowers ever again in the flowerbed that stretched the whole length of my house along the shared driveway across from his own house. Did you see my logic in the garden madness?
I also discovered a cuter and more appropriate name for them when I found a new color I was unaware of. These new colored ones were deep grape, and even though I knew better, I had to have JUST six plants. "Cat's Whiskers" sounded so much neater.........Then the daughters of the first five came back the next year, along with the children of another new flower for me that year.........called 4 o'clocks. Which once again, I was thrilled with.
For me, the plant was incredible. It smelled divine, bringing me memories I was totally unaware of from my childhood. It branched out as well, and thankfully it didn't have hidden spines like the Cat's Whiskers did, and the flowers opened up in the early mornings, closed by mid-day and re-opened later in the evenings. Or even better, bloomed all day when it was cloudy.
The first ones were from three roots given to me by my boss and friend at the school cafeteria. Mrs. Hess never warned me about them. I planted them willingly in hopes of more later on. The next year when it returned unannounced, it came back by the wads with literally 100's of those pink Cleome. Everywhere. In the driveway. Across the driveway, which made me think my neighbor's son might have successfully snitched a few of the neat little pods when I wasn't looking. Good. Now SHE'LL have then forever too!!! <g>
I was also evil that year, showing him how the 4's seeds looked like little grenades, and she wound up with more than I did. I was helping the flower fairies do their job. Maybe I was becoming an over-grown flower fairy?
When I got seeds to my grand mammy's opium poppies that I'd not once seen in the 22 years of visiting every weekend they'd always been there, I was estatic. Out of three OUNCES of seed I got from my Aunt Pearline who had horded and saved them when she moved after Mammy's death into a duplex and raised her own for twelves years I got only six plants. But from those I got 29 and those 29 were car stoppers. Sadly a rainy winter and lots of runoff washed the next years seeds into a dark gully across the street and I lost them. But briefly they were glorious and I was willing to have hordes of them as I remember the pods in the flowerbeds I knew as a child.
The triple daylilies I dug out of the neighbor's back yard before he mowed them down were innocently planted along the front sidewalk of my house as 12 clumps along with some huge bulbs of something called Surprise lilies. The daylilies crept UNDER the sidewalk, over to the other side and down to the lower yard to the driveway. The Surprise lilies took five years to bloom for me and that was after I moved to Eastern Tennessee. They're there still on the embankment of the yard. I've given "toes" of those daylilies away to unsuspecting people who see the neat triple petaled, red throated blossoms and want a piece for themselves.
I've sent them to Michigan, to my friend who lived in Denver at the time, where tehy still grow despite the snows, wierd weather and alkeline sandy soil. And despite their tenacity, she's still my friend.. Now she gives away toes of HER daylilies, and seed from the flowers that I send her from East Tennessee in the mail.
Which brings up another thought. I don't think that my flowers are reading the gardening books. They must be illiterate. I grow flowers here in Tennessee that aren't supposed to do well in less than zone 7. But I send seeds and roots and tubers to arid, "we have REAL winter here" Denver, zone 5 and they do just fine. Some even better than mine here. And I have clay soil you can make into pots almost, she had sandy soil I'd just love to work with because it doesn't take 15 hours to dig one raised bed.
One year the Cleome came up in the bricks in front of the flowerbeds on one end at my then new house. They prevented my husband from parking in that spot, which in actuality I was grateful for. Were they reading my mind? But they also came up ten foot down at the presumed dead maple tree, because once again winter rains had sown the seeds in bizarre places. The next year all the Cleome were coming up in the grass outside of the raised beds and any pot that sat under their branches and seed pods.
I believe most of everything I'm growing is invasive. The foxgloves moved and didn't leave a forwarding address, so I bought four more to replace the originals and then found some five foot over from where they'd originally been. And since then, they've moved on, laughing at my attempts to please get them to reseed. I keep trying. A neat little pink Lychiness my friend, Mary Emma gave me (come to think of it, quite a bit of what she's given me spreads, seeds, walks and takes over too!!) was supposedly gone too, so I got three more plants from her in her "I've got plenty more, take some, take a lot" flower garden and once home discovered six crammed together in one of my hens and chickens rocks with the holes in them.
And speaking of hens and chickens, I got 47 diferent ones from a pen pal gardener in Kansas and discovered that cut up mini blinds used as plant markers isn't a bad idea, but permanent markers aren't. I had all sorts of neat hens and chicks, but didn't have a clue to their identities before the potting mix I used refused to nurture them and I lost them everyone.
I had columbines in my hen's pots, Columbines scattered everywhere in a fifty foot radius in both directions in every flowerbed I have. Wherever there is a bare spot of soil, which I apparently have run out of.......I sometimes only have room to plug in more bulbs, which you now I am won't to do that too............
Sedums in one pot are dropping tiny round succulent leaves like tiny green para-troopers and are invading the ground below the pot, creeping towards the driveway. I have three different kinds of loosestrife, which is really dangerous, because they have that desire to rule the world gene in them too.
I think I have the yellow one that for awhile busted thru the cracks in the timbers that lines the beds, the dreaded pink one that's eating Michigan and the wetlands just hops about like a loony. showing up wherever it wants to but never gives me that glowing pink as far as you can see look. Clay seems to dominate it better and restrain it. The cute Gooseneck on the other hand is a true thug with endearing looks. It's tromping everywhere it wants to. Especially since I loosened it from the confines of the bricko block I had originally planted it in.
False Dragonhead just didn't like the western ended bed, it threw an out of the ball park home run about 16 foot, dead ringer into a concrete pot that used to be crammed with Dragon's blood sedum, candytuft and hens and chicks and a few Tarda tulips I slipped in as an after thought. Everything died in that pot but the dragonheads. They love the pot.
Spiderworts are sneaky, too. Originally back in Nashville I had two huge clumps of them. I didnt' know what they were. They flourished. I divided them and planted them up front. Boy did they love me then. I moved them along with the rest of the yard to Eastern Tennessee and had two kinds of them. The sky blue was the original one that exposed me for the first time to invasion of a different level, by root AND by flinging seeds. Later I received a gift of a thinner leafed variety that had magenta flowers from another gardening friend who thought it "clashed with my other flowers". I know why he gave me the clump he did. It spread and flung, and threw seeds as far away as 20 foot into the already crowded triple daylily bed before it finally gave up on me. I had hoped they'd give each other a run for their money space wise that was. I want more of the magenta spiderwort.
I think that sometimes the devious nature of these invaders rubs off on us too. My friend Mary Emma gave me seeds a few years back of an exotic plant she called "Abelmoscus", or ornamental okra. She had two kinds. One was furry, short and had cherry red hibiscus flowers rising up just two feet from the ground and I fell in love with them immediatey. the other one was the taller one. I even sent seed to Pat Stone. These flowers are defiinately in my classification of invasive, sneaky, and beautiful and I added them to my "biting" catagory as well after I grew them the first year. I forgave them when they finally showed themselves after I give up and think they're not returning. The seeds won't germinate until the soil reaches a steady 76o F. How neat. When they come back, the beautiful Hibiscus flowers all along the branches of the five and six foot stems that have itchy hairy prickles and neat large leaves. Then they start making fat, okra like pods and now I know to scramble to cut them off before they start drying and looking like some alien.
Because when it's touched, it itches, and bites the fingertips like my mammy's eating okra did when we gathered it in early summer. One year a lot of my flowers resembled the old B-grade movie, "the day of the Triffids" and just grew feet and appeared to walk to other spots in the flowerbeds. That's the name I gave the Cleome's one year. Triffids. Even Mike McGrath could see the resemblance.
All the Loosestrife are shoving themselves between the cracks of the timbers intent on reaching the outside. You can almost hear high pitched "follow me!!!!!" And the horse-tail I brougt with me is right behind it in hot pursuit. Despite that I constantly pull it up, it pops up feet away from where I planted it under an overflowing waterspout. What a dummy I was....... for awhile it tried to grow over the porch.
Another little "gift" that Mary emma bestowed on me for a few years was a little beauty called Cypress vine. I can honestly say that I have found the cure fot that ferny little vine with all those little itty bittey maroon trumpets that the hummers go insane for. this vine is meaner than honeysuckle in it's own way. While you might admire the beauty of the delicate ferny leaves, each flower sets four very fertile seeds, and there are HUNDREDS of flowers, much to you temporary delight) pollinated or not. The next thing you know, the vine grabs and chokes and strangles everything in it's climb to wherever it thinks it's going. Another world ruling plant. One year every clump of flowers I brought home from her house had both cypress vine AND Abelmoscus!
This last year no sign what so ever because it seems that if your flowers are elbow to elbow, they will smother out some of those would be invaders. All I have to do this year is pull up all those children of the 4's, all but five or six of the sunflowers that the birds gift me and themselves with that started out from the feeders I had hanging in a Mimosa..........and we won't even get started on TREES that want to cover the Earth............ and oh no....that new plant I got to try one year with the white grayish foliage called Artemesia......it appears to have walked six feet away from where I plugged it in originally. And why do I have Periwinkle vinca major EVERYWHERE???? Where did all that feverfew come from and go to? For three years I had more Feverfew than one could want. Now there is nary a clump of it and I miss it's clean white flowers and sharp astringent smell. I never planted that, maybe if I put out the word the seed fairies will grace the gardens with it's presence again.
How on earth did I get so much Bee Balm??!? Augghhhhhh! I know! I'll have a plant sale........the sign will say "Wanted.........to a good home..........."Cat's whiskers" ..............
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler where the flowers change shifts all the time overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee zone 7, Sunset zone where I still love invasives and have even more of them today..................
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Hi Maddie,
Pat has gotten more and more to the "spiritual" side of gardening, not the "plants" side. And it is a little long for his "humor" side especially if you are competing with his "regulars". (Mike McG and Jeff Taylor)
Ok - have you thought about American Gardener, the Offshots column is often funny. Or submitting to Country Living Gardener?
Now - on the writing - let me look at it some more. You have lots of great raw material there - maybe you should write two or three "articles" from it. Cheryl
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it had been submitted to him YEARS ago when I managed to get published first time with him in the Winter issue of 1994. Then he accepted a broken trowel piece that he said was truely funny and I got a subscription for my efforts. the length of course is long. I have been stock piling my posts from the newsgroup in hopes to eventually put 'em all together and possibly submit them as a madgardener's read. I dunno. I'm not too fulla confidence that it'd sell but one never knows. I've had my moments of good writing. as for wanted to a good home, it was windy and just a stoned ramble. I see why it was rejected for his green prints. now on the other hand, despite the length, my eulogy tribute last year about my Aunt Pearline's passing and inspiration if clipped might actually make it to his magazine/book but I'm not willing to give up the rights to it for a mere $50. I would have loved to have tried to send it to Reader's Digest and gotten $300 for it but don't care one way or the other. It made my Aunt Jean cry and realize that once again her niece was a writer and it felt good to have that kind of hug.
I wish someone would work with me. I'd truely like to do some writing and get paid for it. But in the same breath I get tremendous emotional satisfaction just writing to you guys. (read the circus is in towne on google and you'll see what I mean.......<g>) keep in touch and let me know, and by the way, I adore Mike McG and he thrilled me and answered my letter to him when he was editor at OG and that was what REALLY launched me as a serious part time writer. He not only put it in the Letters department, titled it, answered it but put it in the contents part of the magazine. My best friend in Denver was reading her issue and came across something familiar and discovered it was me................(blush) then when the short lived but incredible Beautiful Gardens magazine was out, I was featured on the outside cover and quoted just before they folded. I hated to see that one go...................... again, my thanks honey for your help. maddie
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