Saturday, March 26, 2011



I am planting flowers. Yes. Flowers. Planting them. Expending precious time, energy, and resources on the advancement of pretty things in my surroundings. Some of which serve no immediate discernable purpose.
I have already embarked upon this flower planting nonsense, actually. Last fall in a fit of “oh my god I am exhausted and tired and wtf am I doing here?!” I planted some daffodil and crocus bulbs. Knowing that if they came up (they have), and I never did more than that, then at least the whole Stoneyhaw venture wouldn’t be a TOTAL bust since I got SOMETHING to grow. My godmother also sent down some irises and daylilies she thinned so I’m actually well on my way.
I am not even going to ask why the crocuses sprouted and bloomed after the daffodils. I don’t even want to know.
There are many reasons to plant flowers. Some of them are medicinal. The Calendula, for example. Some are edible. The nasturtiums, poppies (seeds), sunflowers (again, seeds), daylilies. Some have a good or bad relationship with bugs and birds – I’ve got bee balm and honeysuckle (which actually grows wild, is taking over, and I am trying desperately to harm the livelihood of. But I’m about to accept defeat in that arena, so it goes on the list) and whatnot for the bees and hummies, marigolds and the like to repel beetles and the like (also edible). Some are herbs. The lavender and chamomile (also medicinal).
Some are purely aesthetic. While veggies are beautiful in their own right, if I’m going to work my ass off, I want something pretty to look at while I do it (and potentially talk to/curse at. I never said I was sane). Come on. You think Dahlias are awfully pretty, too. You know you do.
But mostly there are nostalgic reasons. Both the marigolds and the lilacs (I hope I hope! I can keep the lilacs alive here….) have super crazy childhood memories for me. And this time of my earlier childhood in Connecticut (notice I’m not succumbing to Japanese nostalgia and planting morning glories. They took over in my mom’s yard in Vancouver, and parts of the woods in Point Arena without an invitation. They are rude, and impossible to wrangle. They got knocked off of this year’s list…). And the fact that lilacs, Japanese Irises (of which I have some in pots that I dug up out of my yard and drove out here with), and Dahlias are my favorite flowers.
When we lived in Connecticut, we lived in this crazy big Victorian (or so it seemed to me) at the end of campus (a prep school campus). The first floor was the infirmary and the bookstore, but we went through it everyday to go in and out. And right along the front of the house were these giant lilac bushes (I was a small child. They could have been teensy. They seemed huge). And a few times (but one sticks out in my memory particularly well as I do believe the maintenance guys mowed over them later), my mother and I planted marigolds along the sidewalk in front of those lilacs. There were actually lilacs all over the campus – some white ones as well as the standard purple – and lilacs were so involved in the school’s persona that even the stories about the ghost that lived in one of the dorms involved lilacs. But for me they remind me of growing up wild in a pack of unruly teacher’s kids that had free run of the entire campus and whose only rule was that we had to be in by dark (or call. Seriously). Of growing up in a secure bubble where I knew many of the students by name, all of the teachers by name, and could tell you which dog belonged to which teacher and how many puppies it had by ours. And of growing up in a giant playground that had a grove of lilacs that made the best – the best! – playhouses.
So even though they are a great pest repellent in general, I am planting my beloved lilacs and several kinds of marigolds because of my mom. My mom who has sweat, toiled, cried in frustration and in joy on this property, and who, except for a slight miscommunication, would have been out here mucking about in the dirt (although definitely not with Melvin, my awesome Airstream) years ago. And who will be here again soon, if only briefly. Even though I think marigolds smell like pee.



lollyrae said...
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lollyrae said...

Marigolds have always been Darian's favorite flower, so I thoroughly enjoyed calling his attention to the fact that they do indeed smell like pee.

Daffodils have always been my favorite, next to big, fat daisies.

caitlinvb said...

You'd love it out here then - I planted some daffodils near the camper and to one edge of the garden. There are clumps of daffodils all over the property that my great-grandfather planted some 50 years ago. Some of them got bulldozed up when the power lines and water system got put in - and they're tenaciously coming up and blooming anyway. Big fan.