Monday, June 9, 2008

I got Dad's red hair but not his green thumb

I have an empty flower bed around my front porch. I have never really been able to get things to grow there.

It was a brand new house with only minimal landscaping when we moved in. My dad came and handled the maiden planting in that flower bed. He planted Mexican heather which did very well that first year. It even came back the second spring and still looked good, although not quite as full as the first year.

The third year I replanted some new Mexican heather that didn’t even make it through that summer. Subsequent years after that I tried lantana, impatiens, caladiums, nothing seemed to thrive. So, I gave up. For a few years, I just had dirt. I put two huge ferns in planters (again, thanks to my dad) on the front porch to detract attention from the dirt bed. That has actually worked out OK. I get lots of comments on my giant ferns.

This year, I wanted to try again. We made several trips to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe's and strolled all around the annuals and perennials looking for something that showed at least a hint of willingness to survive. The only thing I ever came home with was one hanging basket of impatiens that I can move in and out of the sun.

The local Piggly Wiggly grocery store has seasonal plants for sale lined up outside the front of the store. I spied a few pots of plumbago bushes and it brought back some sweet memories.

When I was a little girl, there was a large plumbago bush that grew close to the house. In the summer when it was hot, hot, hot, my sister and I would play with the water hose on the large concrete patio in the back yard. One of our favorite things to do was to turn the water hose on full force and lay it down on the patio. The stream of water from the hose would create a little river flowing the length of the patio. We would pick all the little blue blossoms off the plumbago bush and one by one turn them upside down and place them in the flow of water. They would float gently down the stream (we were probably doing this while singing "row, row, row, your boat..."). At the point where the water stopped moving, the upside down blooms would puddle up in a log jam against the patio wall. We would pick up the blooms and take them back to the mouth of the hose and launch them again. Over and over and over. I don’t know why we found just joy in that, but it still makes me smile to think about it.

It took several trips to the Piggly Wiggly and down memory lane before I bought one of those bushes. It was more of a sentimental purchase than a practical one. When I got it home, I put the pot in the spot where I eventually wanted to plant it in the flower bed. It stayed full of blooms in the pot for a couple of weeks. I finally got it in the ground and was quite pleased with myself. The little blue flowers made me smile and think of the water hose on the patio.

Then, the all blue flowers fell off and the little branches turned brown. Like I said, nothing has ever lived very long in my flowerbed.

Now, however, it’s teeming with life. A long, crooked, mounding burrow leading up to and all around my dying plumbago bush tells me so. A mole. An ugly little mole. I’ve read that they don’t eat plant roots. Well, they may not eat them, but they do something to the plants that makes them whither. My plumbago didn’t shrivel up until that little mole rooted all around it.

I thought my cat, Marbles, would help take care of the pesky mole problem.

Here’s what she thinks about it:

She prefers napping in the shade of the fern over stalking wiggly things in the dirt. She’s definitely not making a mountain out of this molehill.

Maybe I shouldn’t either. As a matter of fact, a nap sounds pretty good right now.

I can only hope my mom and dad feel the same way now that they know it wasn't a mole that stole the blooms from their plumbago bush all those years ago.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:11-16


Heather said...

What sweet memories! I know I've had to do a lot of trial and error since I moved from up north to down south, so I can totally relate to the dirt patches. And the lazy cat. I have one of those too.

Have a great day!

Lisa a.k.a. The Preacher's Wife said...

Moles are nasty little things. I hope that sweet cat of yours gets a taste for it soon...

I'm all about sentimental gardening so I loved this post! :)

Mari said...

Thanks for visiting me. What a great post - I've never heard of that plant, but I know what moles do here! I love the title of your blog, especially with the explanation for it!

jamie in rose cottage said...

I've seen that plant but don't have one. I really like it though, so if it works for my zone, I think I'm going to have to get one. I love just about anything with blue or purple flowers!

Thanks for sharing your garden and your memories!

Anonymous said...

All I remember is the water hose! Too funny!

Love, love, love,
Sister and Playmate at the Patio Waterpark

Erin said...

That fern is fabulous! I can see whay you get some many compliments on it!