Sunday, August 06, 2006

More Than Yellows and Oranges

As the sun rose above Peacham Pond this morning, you could almost confuse the morning for a September day, save for the fact that the leaves are not showing any sign of change. It was 50 degrees when I first checked the thermometer and oddly I grabbed a sweatshirt before heading out with my coffee. The air seemed cooler than it really was and the grass was wet with a heavy dew.

I checked for the still absent Sunday paper and then began my ritual of deadheading the daylilies. This is a daily task apparently relegated to the garden gopher that I am as I can't remember when Gail went through the garden on this mission. Often Michelle helps or does it all herself but this morning I knew I had to get things going before customers started to arrive.

As I walked up and down each row it became apparent that the cooler night didn't move the spent blooms on as quickly as warmer nights. I had to use other signs to decide which buds were wasted and which were going to open for the day. Age has a way of modifying ones eyesight and making certain tasks trickier than they should be.

It was almost nine before I finished and I had six, five-gallon buckets filled with aging buds and a few clumps of sourgrass. Time for another cofee and another look for the errant newspaper delivery person I thought.

Michelle arrived about 15 minutes early about the same time Gail exited the house with a pan of blueberry coffee cake and chocolate chip bars. Customer treats...sugar to keep me going...a form of bribery to get through another busy day.

We greeted each other and agreed that yesterday was a productive day and today had the makings of a repeat performance. I had a feeling that all would be well. I reflected for a minute and recalled with a mental smile the three year old boy who made his way to the sand box yesterday and invited me to play. "Do you want to play with me?" he asked. "I'd like to play with you", I replied, "but Gail has a long list of things for me to do and I have to get busy with them--work you know?" Spontaneously the little guy turned to his mother and asked "Do you think he could ask his mother if he could play with me?" You know, I really like Tonka Toys and I would have liked to crawl in the sand building roads and castles with the boy but summers are short in Vermont and gardeners have to work hard and save play time for later. Maybe next time.

Meeting lots of people each day means lots of stories. We exchanged some stories with each other and then a red Subaru pulled in the drive. It was our friend Eric from Massachusetts and he was just in time for some cake. Eric has a summer camp down in Groton that has been in his family for a number of years. Gail and Alex and I had a chance to visit him there a couple weeks back and just visiting once made it clear why Eric likes to leave Massachusetts most every Friday night after work and make his way north. His camp has a beautiful view down the valley and there is a peacefulness to the site which is worth a lot.

"Have a piece of cake, Eric", invited Gail with a smile. "Already had one, thank you." came the reply. Gail's baked treats are just that and folks who have tried them before seem to locate them on subsequent visits with good speed. Two more cars pulled in, I took a brief walk through the gardens with Eric and then the morning became of busy blur.

Shoppers often talk to themselves. It doesn't matter if it is shopping for clothes or groceries or flowers at Vermont Flower Farm. As I walked down a row to help a couple ladies, I heard one express that she just didn't need any more yellow or orange daylilies. That was a clue to suggest some other colors even though I didn't agree with what was said.

With +60,000 registered daylilies on the market, there are a lot of oranges and yellows. Good gardeners look beyond that fact and look to the personality of the daylilies. I used to be an anti-orange gardener myself until I was introduced to some of the Chicago series, to Tuscawilla Tigress, Reggae Tiger, Thumbellina, Rocket City and a fairly large cast of oranges. Some have ribs, others have nice throats, some have heavy textures. Oranges and yellows have great talent to me and pairing them with other colors strengthens each flowers beauty. Yes, there are more colors than yellow and oranges, but mixing the ones we know with the other flowers and colors we like brings us closer to the palette of garden color we enjoy so much.

Gail yelled out an apologetic question of sorts. "Excuse me, but can we spare one more Tetrina's Daughter?" Before I could reply, one of the ladies asked "What color is that one? I like the name." "Yellow", I said, "Pale yellow, on a tall plant with thick scapes laden with a high bud count." "Can I see them?", asked the lady. I grabbed a shovel and motioned her to follow me. There are more than yellows and oranges in the world of daylilies, but Tetrina's Daughter is a yellow you'll remember. I dug a fresh one for Gail's customer and one for mine. Yellows are nice, Tetrinas Daughter is special. Maybe the lady will rethink yellows and oranges.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where some kind of big black beetle is persistently striking my office window.

Gardening wishes, health and happiness for the coming week.

George Africa

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