Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oriental Opulence

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I was driven inside half an hour ago by an armed band of mosquitos that escaped from a Yard Guard commercial. They were small but nasty buggers and I'm still itching both forearms which were uncovered as I tried to snap a few pictures in fading sunlight. My Dad used to keep a bottle of witch hazel by "his" kitchen chair so he could douse himself when situations like this arose. The only witch hazel I really like is a daylily by that name. It's been blooming for more than two weeks now and it probably has another week to go, maybe a little more. If you'd like to see a picture, let me know.

As August draws to a close I try to be sure to get out each night after supper and enjoy the flowers. Summers in Vermont are short and you have to train yourself to enjoy every minute. I had a couple things on my mind tonight and I just wanted to toss them around a little as I walked among the rows of daylilies in the lower nursery.

Raising flowers and operating a nursery is kind of like raising jerseys or holsteins and trying to sell milk. Although the government doesn't get involved in telling you what to sell flowers for, there are a multitude of necessities which increase in price every year and impact on how you operate. This part is just like dairy farming, and there's not too much "getting rich" involved.

I always liked the word opulence which I remember James Clavell liked to use in his Tai-Pan/Shogun/Noblehouse series that was initially released about the time I was graduating from high school. (Did older folks notice I said "graduating from high school" not "graduating high school?). I'm not sure why I liked the word as even back then I had no aspirations for the incredulous wealth Clavell described in certain Hong Kong families. Just the same I like the word and liked it even more a couple years ago when our friend Leila gave us a fine plant of the daylily named Oriental Opulence. Tonight I had a chance to view Oriental Opulence and capture her beauty. She's pictured above.

Now some people have a pocket full of greenbacks but I'm satisfied and proud to have a good sized patch of milkweed. Here's a plant with real value because it's the preferred food choice for the caterpillers which create magic as they transform from caterpiller to chrysallis to Monarch butterfly.

Tonight I walked along the 5 to 6 foot tall plants looking for a caterpiller, nicely striped in white, yellow and black. I knew they would be motionless and "sleeping" for the night as the temperature had already dropped below 55 degrees. I looked towards the bottom side of the milkweed leaves and in time found a couple. These represented opulence to me because I do so enjoy the return of the Monarch butterflies in the spring and their presence during the summer. The little gold and black dots on the shiny green chrysallis always catch my attention, but most of all their presence reminds me that it's perfectly ok not to use chemicals on your plants. Plants with holes from bugs without names are ok to me as long as I can enjoy these butterflies. Many visitors agree.

Each year the milkweed patch grows a little bigger. This year the number of butterflies was very good, last year it was off a bit and the year before it was very poor. In time I think Oriental Opulence as well as butterfly opulence will grow and please me. I hope your wealth grows too.

Writing from the moutnain above Peacham Pond where wealth can include the sounds of a barred owl or a loon saying good night.

Great gardening wishes,

George Africa

1 comment:

Pittsgrove Farms said...

Hi George, thanks for your note. Funny you should mention milkweed. Just yesterday my parents were over for dinner and my mother with two milkweed pods in hand asked me to start saving them. Since I live on a pond it is prime milkweed hunting country. They are hoping to get a patch started near their pond. Hopefully they aren't too tricky to get started.