Tuesday, June 25, 2013

bedfellows, part 1

Our front garden consists of three raised beds, each roughly triangular, bordered by eight-inch brick walls, and trisected by a path which Steve paved when he put in the bricks. Lately I've written a lot about the cactus and succulent bed (Bed 'C,' if you will); earlier in spring it was the bulb bed (Bed 'B'); and occasionally there's something to say about Bed 'A,' which includes all the rest -- from my repurposed Australian tree fern and a Meyer asparagus fern to a tall camellia, a clump of flowering ginger, and a patch of bromeliads.

One of my grad school professors liked to divide literature and philosophy into two processes: 'lumping' and 'separating.' This is a useful distinction, but sometimes the two are simultaneous. We have separated the garden into three parts and lumped certain categories* of plants into them.

Bed 'C' includes California poppies and Texas sun drops. Neither of these is a cactus or a succulent, but both are natives of states where cacti and succulents flourish. This year the orange poppies appeared to be finished before the yellow sun drops really got started, but the poppies have managed a 'second coming' since I cut back most of their dried-up foliage. Thus we have the plants side by side, looking very similar with their four delicate petals and wispy foliage.

I hope that, as they spread, these natives of different states will intertwine into an orange-and-yellow ground-cover reminiscent of the iconic "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" so popular in the mid 1950s.

But wait! We have true 'Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White' in the same bed with the poppies and sun drops. White gardenias, gracing the cactus and succulent bed thanks to their seniority, are mingling with cerise calandrinias, newcomers from a backyard succulent sale two years ago. 


The calandrinia's pointed gray-green leaves are visible in the lower left corner of this photo, while its 'cherry pink' blossoms rise on slender 30-inch stems to crowd in front of the sturdy gardenias --larger this year than ever before, though not as symmetrical as the ones we wore to junior high dances.

See the well camouflaged bee? I have to wonder whether the gardenia feels deprived of insect attention. A fall dose of iron should be good for whatever ails it -- even the yellow leaves.
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*I cannot think of categories without recalling how Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986) classified animals into types 'a' through 'n.' I hope you'll follow this link to a page of Borges quotations and scroll down to a longish paragraph beginning: "These ambiguities, redundances, and deficiences . . ."

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License