HELEN LANG: Hibiscus growing in the strangest place

An interesting phenomenon is going on in the kitchen. On the counter, beside the sink, I have a hibiscus twig sitting in a small glass of water. It has produced a long root and now, to my amazement, it has a flower bud almost in bloom. I long to put it in a pot of soil, but am afraid it will simply shrivel up and die if it gets taken out of that warm greenish water. However, I’m going to have to do something soon. My conscience bothers me every time I see it while getting a drink of water and I hate feeling guilty.

Cher came and picked me up yesterday, taking me to see her garden. The roses at the front of the house are spectacular and smell wonderful. The back garden is amazing, the tomatoes in her green house have stalks as thick as some trees and are, of course, covered with fruit, as are the cucumber and zucchini vines. The outdoor veg garden is a wonderful blend of good things to eat, onions, giant pole beans (I’m still grieving the barren plants here). Some of those bean plants must be 15 feet high. She picks the beans from the steps of a ladder. There is a big, handsome artichoke plant standing in a corner, lots of onions, green peas, carrots (which her dog used to pull up and eat) – everything you can think of, plus a forest of asparagus fern growing from the asparagus she didn’t eat. I came home with a nice gift of zucchini, an onion and a cucumber, which was a delightful bonus. I surely miss my old vegetable garden with its wonderful harvest all summer long and the blessed winter (THAT word again) squashes, which we loved.

The ornamental orange tree sitting on the balcony is getting a sunburn. I don’t want to bring it inside yet, so may have to improvise some sort of screen for it. It, too, has come into bloom in spite of the heat. It was too hot for the sweet peas so they have signed off for the moment, although I still water them daily.

The clematis has grudgingly produced one lovely blue bloom and it seems likely that is going to be it. I fear it is just too hot for it out there. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. I get the feeling that the odds of growing vegetables on a west-facing balcony aren’t too favourable, but I’m still going to try. Gardeners never willingly give up.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.


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