Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Red Stars in the Morning

Cardinal Vine Seed, while it lasts….


My father claims that flowers have wills of their own. “Some years they decide they’ll bloom, and other years they say, ‘Nope. I don’t believe I will.’”

I’ve found this to be true. This summer, for example, I spotted what looked like cardinal vine, its telling feathery leaves, sprouting in one of my flower beds. I coaxed it along and now have about twenty feet of vine woven through an iron railing. It’s managed to survive the Texas summer and is putting on a fine show.

Cardinal vine (ipomea X multifida) is an annual. I bought one plant three years ago that barely bloomed. So explain why this vigorous plant—just one of them—emerged in June of 2004. Cardinal vine resolve is as good an explanation as any.

It looks as if I’ll have seed to give away. Send a comment here with your address and I’ll mail out as many mini-seed packets as I can. That is, if you can stand a strong-willed, unpredictable addition to your garden, star-shaped and bright red as the button in Pasha’s hat.

Posted by Julie on 09/25 at 06:06 PM
Gardening & LandscapePermalink

Friday, September 24, 2004

Flower Envy

How can Philly’s flower judges go gaga over an invasive plant?

Philadelphia’s flower arbiters are ivy league. Their garden clubs and flower shows, some of the oldest in the nation, set floral trends for generations. But recent Gold Medal winners named by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society cast doubt on the sanity and—dare I say it?—the taste of this grande olde organization.

For, along with Korean fir and an orange variety of winterberry, the PHS chose Gelsemium sempervirens"Margarita” (Carolina jasmine) as a 2005 winner. We call it Carolina jessamine here in Central Texas. I think of it as cowboy forsythia, garish enough to survive our drought and alkaline soil. It’s everywhere.

This spring it was I who deserved the gold medal, for having hacked out a thicket of the stuff six feet high and twenty feet long. Already new clumps are fighting back.

So how could a plant that kindly Austin nurseryman Scott Thurman calls “a workhorse” captivate Philadelphia’s garden connoisseurs? Greg Grant, one of my favorite flower scholars, nailed it: “Gardeners want what they don’t have.” So while Carolina jessamine may deserve excitement and a little nursing in Zone 6, here in Texas, most of us can’t love it—it won’t go away.

Posted by Julie on 09/24 at 09:51 AM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Divided We Survive—Daylilies and More

In the U.S. now’s the time to divide perennials like Siberian iris and daylilies, to improve next spring’s flower display and butter up the neighbors too.

Gardening is social, because everybody got her plants from somebody else. If you’re lucky, you got some of yours for free, from a neighbor both generous and wise, somebody who notices how crowded daylily beds quit flowering. It’s share the wealth or lose it.

Today’s Washington Post offers good tips on dividing and transplanting perennials, with a focus on daylillies. Check it out, and then start digging or begging.

Passalong Plants is a good, breezy book on this subject, with color illustrations of the most common varieties shared across the Southern U.S.

Back in Kentucky, a popular passalong was Celandine Poppy, low-growing with rich yellow flowers. It’s one of the earliest spring bloomers in Louisville and Lexington. Friends back home call it “Peggy Poppy” because we all received our “starts” from Peggy Courtney, a beautiful lady who shared her plants with all of us. Peggy’s no longer with us, but her yellow flowers still bloom every early spring in Louisville yards and across the Bluegrass.

Posted by Julie on 09/23 at 10:20 AM
Gardening & LandscapePermalink

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Permian Girls Steal Friday Night Lights


Students at Permian High School in Odessa, Texas, observed a riotous custom Friday, sporting gargantuan mums for the homecoming game September 17 vs. Amarillo.

Homecoming mums used to be fresh flowers but since the mid-1980s, fabric flowers have taken over, turning the once-ephemeral corsage into a trophy of one’s adolescence. These status symbols range in price from $25 up to more than $200, some bearing battery-operated lights and music boxes.

Permian High was the subject of H.G. Bissinger’s best seller Friday Night Lights. The movie version, starring Billy Bob Thornton, will be released in October. The real-life Permain Panthers, 3-0 for the season, beat Amarillo’s Sandies 41-17. but the real winners last Friday were the girls fortunate, bold and crazed enough to wear mums big enough to beat both football teams and both bands.

Posted by Julie on 09/22 at 02:19 PM
Secular CustomsPermalink
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