At a time when I greatly enjoy working in the garden -- the evening are cool, the dahlias are delicious and the light is magnificent, I find myself in the rather unfortunate experience of being confined to my bed for three weeks. Unable to climb up and down stairs I am greatly saddened by the dahlias gathering unloved and uncut by the side of the garage that I can see from my upstair rear windows. They are a reproach, and I am guilty, if of nothing else but poor timing, of at least that.
Luckily, just before my jailbed term began, a few wondrous gifts appeared. Two of my favorite catalogues appeared together one day in the mail; the first focused on new shrubs for 2015, the other a collector’s list of deliciousness and “have-to-haves.” The next day’s post carried with it, along with the inevitable bills and flyers, the encyclopedic ‘Weeds of North America’ by Richard Dickinson and France Royer and six, count them out loud, six bulb catalogues.
The universe was feeling sorry for me.
Now I know there are many people out there, myself included who love to explore and ferret out plant information on the internet -- I impressed myself just the other day by identifying buckwheat in just a few moments of mousework when handed a limp, partially desiccated strand, but there is something wonderful with being able to curl up with the printed page. Now I know that there are something I can never trust a book to get right, like when it comes to deer resistant lists. By the time the thing is published, it’s already out of date, just last winter we had deer eat daffodils, ostrich ferns, peonies and butterfly bush. How could any book hope to keep up?
But when I want to ferret out all the brassicacea formerly cruciferae or members of the mustard family that are labels as weed, I have 800 pages of lusciousness to help me do so. I forget that garlic mustard and my beloved dame’s rocket are related. And when I get to the section of caryophyllaceae or the carnation family I want to slide down my forbidden stairs and slide out into the garden to check the extent of inflation of the calyx of the silene that’s shot up in the bed next to the driveway. But I know I will have to wait. What’s got me all hot and bothered is that common jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, is not even included as a weed. The introduction declares, “Species selection for this guide was determined by federal, provincial, and state weed legislation … and should only be used as an indication of legislation at time of printing.” This doesn’t make me feel better but could lead me down a rabbit’s warren of “what is a weed” questioning that is sure to take up weeks of my time lounging among pillows. And for that I am grateful.
I have already filled my entire property twice over with my fantasy bulb orders. I cannot located my favorite tulip from last year, Tulipa 'Green Artichoke' anywhere and am quite despondent. I am looking for volunteers who will get it for me from Europe and smuggle it into the country. So far, quite surprisingly, I have no takers. I confess that I am ridiculous when it comes to tulips. I know they don’t come back but the joy they give me each spring, now that I am no longer am plagued by deer, is visceral. I have a new lust, Tulipa Renown’s Unique which I have already ordered far too many of, and I am awaiting with baited breath the arrival of Tulipa 'Synaeda Blue' at Marders which our organic tulip vendor EcoTulips has snatched up for us, knowing how much I love unusuals.
This does not mean I can not dream and there is a list from two vendors in specific that is being revised and whittled down and then added too and negotiated upon as if it were the list for Noah’s Arc or the Capote Black and White Ball.
And of course, just because I am ill, there are a slew of new hydrangeas to obsess over. There’s a blush colored hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’ that looks like it’s a beautiful soft pink in the photographs. Anyone who was within distant earshot when hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ finally showed up heard how passionately upset I was by that plant’s true appearance. Not that anyone would have confused that hideous ground-up brick colored flower with pink in my garden if they had but asked. However this new one does look lovely. Sigh. See I am an eternal optimist.
And I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under to not know about the ‘Gatsby’ line of hydrangea querifolia but it takes a few moments in bed with a good catalogue to realize just what I’ve been missing. I adore the oakleaf hydrangeas, and if anyone every wondered what to get me as a present, and oakleaf hydrangea would never be remiss as a gift, but right this moment I happen to need ‘Gatsby Star’ and ‘Gatsby Moon’ the way other people need chocolate and cheese and scotch.
And although I am a huge fan of the dwarf Citiline hydrangeas, my focus is being pulled back to the ‘Let’s Dance’ the Let’s Dance reblooming line. Although they lost the large war for rebloomers to the ‘Endless Summer' behemoths, they are now giving us some lovely options that are both dwarf and reblooming. So long 'Mini Penny', you will flop in a container for us no longer. I’m torn between asking our shrub buyer to get just, ‘Let’s Dance Blue Jangles’ or to purchase all three dwarfs, ‘Rave’, ‘Blue Jangles’ and ‘Rhythmic Blue.’ I believe it’s only right that Marders should have all three so that I can self-sacrifice and grow all three and really provide you with the knowledge that owning and growing all three will bring me. Wahahahahaha! These are the kinds of self-justifications one makes on one’s sickbed when the cat is the only creature you speak to for most of the day and you are told you must take your pain pills.
There’s actually so much reading, researching and ordering to be done I’m almost pleased to be under the covers. Well, almost.
Luckily, Paige Patterson has her American Express card right next to her bed in case of an emergency like Tulipa Mistress for sale at Colorblends for half the normal price.