Opinion

HELEN LANG: Reader mail is always appreciated

I absolutely love writing this column. I have met so many lovely people over the years because they phone or write me to share some gardening information or to ask a question — and we become friends.

I am always so impressed when someone takes the time to write a note or make a phone call. I’m so grateful that after all this time, people are still reading Over the Garden Fence. I realize that most of us love our gardens, the changing seasons and the bounty that nature provides (with a little bit of help from us).

I recently received two letters, which the editor hand delivered (I’m getting spoiled). One letter was about an Easter lily that Heather had given her mother just before her Mum died. This lily is now planted in Heather’s garden. In 2005 it produced one blossom but each year since it has added one more bloom. There are now nine and Heather has decided it can’t count because there should be ten.

The second letter contained an invitation from Judy M. to visit her garden (she wrote that would pick me up) where I could pick and bring home as many hydrangea blossoms as I can carry. I promise not to be a pig, but I am going to take her up on her generous offer. To my delight she lives so close I could walk there and parade home carrying my “loot” (looking like a mobile flowering shrub with skinny legs).

Now, back at the ranch, as they say in cowboy movies, what has been going on? That glorious white Oriental lily has tossed off its last petals and is now standing there looking forlorn. It now has to be left after being watered and ferilized, until its stem turns yellow, at which time it may be allowed to die back for this season.

The zinnias in their long narrow container are looking strong (it seems zinnias always do) and continue to flower but I have added those nasturtium seeds to the container, so there will be something coming on when the zinnias begin to look kind of peaked. The clematis, which was such a disappointment to me, is now dying back and I’m going to replace it with the Jackmanni I wanted in the first place. I will give this plant to some unwary friend. I’ll confess it’s not the glamorous beauty I had hoped for and I suggest it be planted somewhere it need not be a feature, just a filler (behind the garage, maybe). And still those faithful pansies and petunias, go on, not expecting any praise, just humbly producing a few flowers, hoping for some water and maybe the odd pat on the back for just enduring a roaring hot summer on a west-facing balcony.

The hibiscus and the rose seem to have enjoyed their stay outdoors and promise to bloom when they are returned inside. “They better,” said she, glaring at them threateningly, recalling all those gallons of water transported from the bathtub, all the way outside.

Suddenly it has clouded over. Do you suppose we might get some rain? It would be welcome for sure unless, of course, you had planned to go camping.

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

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