An Unlikely Comparison

19 07 2013

I was sitting outside this morning, eating my breakfast on the back porch beside by garden, and couldn’t help comparing my poor efforts at gardening with those at the Akureyri Botanical Garden in Iceland.  Okay, so I’m a sucker for punishment.

Regardless, here’s a little photo quiz to keep you on your horticultural toes, so to speak: Akureyri or Aiken?

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Did you guess correctly?  The first one is in my garden in Aiken: a bee balm, attracting lots of bees as well as butterflies and hummingbirds.  I’m not sure what the second flower is, but it must have been the inspiration for flowers in Dr. Suess’s  Horton Hears a Who.

Try this one:

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Again, the top one is from my garden in Aiken: a common zinnia.  These reseed every year, making it the perfect flower for a lazy gardener such as myself.  And again, I’m not sure what the one from the Akureyri Botanical Garden is. Names escape me.  Beauty doesn’t.

On to number three:

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The top one is from Akureyri.  The bottom is of an Easter lily in my garden who decided to wait until well into June to bloom.

Next:

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Did I get you?  These are both from Akureyri.

No more tricks (just treats):

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The bottom picture is in Aiken, where a voracious anise swallowtail caterpillar was chowing down on my fennel.

How about this?

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The top picture is from Akureyri, but could have been from Aiken.  It is a type of mint, which apparently will grow just about anywhere.  The bottom picture is a canna I just transplanted in my garden this past spring.  You wouldn’t find this one growing outside in Iceland; he is happiest in a more tropical locale.

Here’s my last unlikely comparison:

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Sorry.  I did it again.  Both these pictures are from my garden in Aiken.  The top is a hibiscus that has grown about 15 feet tall.  The bottom is a double day lily.   Both plants grow back every spring and provide bright and easy color for my lazy garden.

It may be a while before I can get back to Iceland.  In the meantime I’ll just have to enjoy the scenery from my back porch.





Kinder Garden

12 06 2013

School’s out and my garden is blooming.  I, of course, am reflecting on the past year while looking at the various blooms from my back porch when that tired old metaphor pops in my mind.  You know the one: children grow like flowers, blooming in the fertile soil of…blehhh.  Let’s not even go there.

Yet, looking at the flowers with the dazed numbness left behind from a crazy two weeks, I start to see personalities emerge.  One by one, former students populate my garden.

Bee balm: the flower pops with personality and a student begins to take root in my mind (hang on, this is fertile ground for puns).  Here we have the most noticeable one of the bunch.  You can’t miss him: not only does he stand tall, the bright red color draws your attention. The fiery petals stick out from the top like a Mohawk, screaming “Look at me, I revel in my craziness.”  Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies compete to befriend this wild character, who would be glad to take over the entire plot if allowed.bee balm

Easter lily.  So white, so free of blemishes that it almost hurts your eyes.  Clean.  Innocent. Perfect in every way. I almost feel the need to bow down before her.  Give her a halo and she’d be set.  Yet I don’t know if I’d want a garden full of these.  I rather like the variety pack, the wild flowers sown haphazardly.easter lily

Here then is the zinnia.  I didn’t plant her: she just grew where her mama dropped her seeds.  Playful, bright, and cheerful, she doesn’t take herself too seriously.  Accessories?  She’s got them and knows how to use them.  She adds color to the garden, but if I’m not careful, she’ll grow where she shouldn’t.  Yes, a little guidance is needed to keep her on the right track.  By the end of the season, her leaves becomes a bit jaded with a grey ash; the hot humid conditions of a crowded garden get to her.  Not to worry, she’ll be ready to go the next season, putting forth her best face as she makes the best of her situation.garden experiments 130

Gladiolus.  Their very name screams at their awesomeness: “I’m the one, aren’t you GLAD I’m here?”  They were planted for a purpose, and that purpose is to wow everyone with their color and delicate structure.  “Show and tell? It’s all about me, so forget the rest.”  For all their showiness, they need support or they will crash.garden experiments 126

Cosmos.  Year after year, my garden glows with these bright orange blooms.  Spindly, they haven’t quite grown into their bodies.  Like the zinnias, they grew from last year’s seeds, underfoot and in the way at times.  Until they bloom, I’m not quite sure if they are flower or weed, but when I see their familiar orange smiles, I know I’ve made the right decision to let them grow.  By August, my garden is ablaze with these golden beauties, and when all the other flowers have dropped their petals, even up until the first frost, my eyes are still rewarded with their brilliance.cosmos

There are weeds in my garden.  I try my best to keep them under control, with varying degrees of success.  Then I remember it was Emerson who said  a weed is just “a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

It’s summer, and I’m seeing students in my garden. Yep.  I must be a blooming idiot.