Finding patience for plants

Annie of Melissa Street, took me with her today to a large local nursery where we each bought more than we had intended — a common occurance in a nursery I find.  Annie even bought me a hyacinth in bud, a dark blue one, which will smell wonderful when it opens. She is the dear friend that brings me gifts of blooms from my former garden, which is so thoughtful of her.

I bought a blue clematis and a golden honeysuckle which will be planted in large pots on opposite ends of the balcony railing and trained toward one another, probably overlapping in the middle, but how lovely they will look, and the honeysuckle is a fragrant one so it should be a delight to sit out there when summer comes. I looked for lily bulbs, but the ones on display were an indentical three in a single packet, and I’d prefer a variety since there is a very limited amount of space.

I have one of the most beautiful African violets I’ve ever seen. It is enormous, obviously healthy, with clusters of dark blue blossoms standing above the larger-than- normal leaves. What interests me is that I’ve done nothing special to create this spectacular plant, except possibly putting it in the wrong place, in a sunny window. Maybe we have been mislead when being told they are shade lovers, maybe in Africa they need shade, but not here. Please don’t immediately move your African violets into a sunny window. I don’t want you after my hide if your violets shrivel up and die. I’ve always hoped to do something spectaclar during my lifetime. and maybe putting African violets in sunshine is it!

The anemone tubers I planted this fall are working hard at producing their feathery leaves, but, so far, no sign of blossoms. I’ve forgotten which colour the flowers  will be, but I hope they’ll be the red ones, like the ones I had in pots on the deck in Prince George, but the dark blue ones are also beautiful so either one will be welcome. I wish I weren’t so impatient with my planted seeds, or bulbs. I cause  myself all sorts of worry when things don’t show up when I figure they should, where if I’d just relax, they’d appear when they should. I was convinced that two of the three begonia bulbs I’d set in damp peat in as warm a place as I could find, were not going to produce any growth, and was debating returning them to the nursery, and threatening them for selling faulty bulbs. (Punishable by spending several days in jail, or at least a large fine.) However when I looked at the three of them yesterday, lo-and-behold all three of them had lovely pink sprouts. I am reminded of a hydrangea that appeared to have perished in a winter when the temperature went below 0 F.   My mother insisted that it be left to its own devices, not dug out, and sure enough in June it put forth green shoots. Why can’t I be as patient as she was?

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 25 years.

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