Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Finding Beauty

It wasn't quite 5 AM and the ravens were carrying on a conversation that must have contained a forbidden subject for which most were being actively scolded by one of the adults. It was a noisy affair and it reminded me of the first time I had dinner with some soon-to-be in-laws. That was back in 1969. I was reminded of an assortment of topics which were forbidden dinner table topics. They included politics, religion, death and disease.

My mother-in-law, long since passed on to a better place, made the rules very clear just like the raven adults. She also was the first to break them as she pleased while being ever so quick to remind me of my mistakes. I liked to spice things up once in a while because otherwise the food was great but the discussions boring.

Gail was up early today as she had to get the hoses ready to get things watered. Hot days will dry out one gallon potted plants quickly. Our daylily events start this weekend and we want things looking nice so thorough watering is critical. I reminded Gail that the heat and humidity were oppressive at 79 degrees and lacking the least breeze. She thought for just a minute and said the heat was actually expressive. Oppressive? Expressive?

Gail explained that many things are happening on our planet which remind us of serious times. This week's heat was a reminder of a similar historical heat event which sent problems through the food producing regions of the country. In1995, there was a major heat event here in Vermont and many, many Vermonters found themselves without water. Well drillers worked round the clock and when winter arrived, many remained waterless. I guess Gail is correct when she says the heat expresses a recurring weather type which we well remember because it is so negative. Here at Vermont Flower Farm we have one of the finest water supplies available but when it doesn't rain, we have to man the hoses, oppressive heat or not.

Despite the heat which encourages complaints and keeps good gardeners from visiting us, the month of July is a time when a couple of my favorite native flowers bloom. These are both beauties. One is the Lilium canadense pictured above. These are candelabra types which have small, creamy orange to red turks-cap type flowers hanging downward. The second is Lilium superbum which are larger and taller, with large spotted, orange-yellow combinations going to smokey red towards the petal ends. Both these lilies enjoy marsh perimeters or the edge of woodlands. I have had success finding them in the sandy soils along the Winooski River and also along the Connecticut. A friend reminded me the other night of their frequency along railroad beds, probably because of the abundance of organic material and often times more moist soil conditions.

Some years ago when L. canadense seed was plentiful, I collected a baggie full and spread it along a tiny brook in our woods. The brook travels down a hill from a beautiful spring which comes bubbling out of rocks and granite dust. Last year the first sign of success was obvious in a 5 foot stem with 6 buds. It was surrounded by wild raspberry bushes and I thought it might be saved from the deer. Wrong. One night when they stopped to get their Vitamin C fix, they ate the raspberry leaves and topped off the lily too. No seed last year.

Apparently the deer did me a favor as the bulb grew larger instead of spending energy on seed production. This year's stem contains 27 flowers and is a beauty at over 8 feet tall. I took this picture standing in the bed of the pick up truck. Despite the high temperatures, hard rain storms and the threat of hail, we can still find beauty around Vermont in native flowers which give us a special showing.

If you have some time tonight or in the morning before the sun gets too high, journey around your neighborhood and search for the beauty of our wildflowers......Expressive?

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the male ruby throated hummingbirds have begun their evening ritual of daredevil flights above the bee balm patch. They are masters of repeating a giant "U" dive, rise, dive with a buzzing noise that is sure to catch your attention.

Gardening wishes,

George Africa

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