Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I love flowers. I learned to identify them as a child at my mother’s side. We walked the woods and her gardens identifying blossoms and leaves. I love the rationality of identification. If a plant has two big three lobed basal leaves with distinctively shaped nodding red and yellow flowers, blooming in May and June, it’s a wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. If it’s a low spreading perennial found in moist dense woods in May and June, with two heart shaped light green leaves and a single purplish brown three petaled flower hiding beneath the leaves, it’s wild ginger, Asarum canadense.

The flowers I’ve learned since childhood are less well cemented in my memory, but I still love figuring out their names and discovering new finds and old friends in the woods and gardens. I can almost always tell the difference between the new shoots of a perennial and the new shoots of a weed in my sun garden.

Weeds are the main frustration to do with flower gardens, at least the flowers with mine. After six years, the tulips, iris, and phlox have established themselves well and the lamia and daisies are close to taking over, except for the weeds. Thistles, dandelions, and grasses are the clear winners in my garden.

Why am I surprised? The lawn and hayfield are plagued by the same weeds. It’s not that I don’t weed. It’s mostly that I don’t enjoy weeding. I’m not the kind of gardener who stops and pulls every weed she passes. There are just too many weeds and too little time. I do my weeding in big aggressive campaigns – shovel, garden gloves, and book on tape are my weapons. I wait until after a good rain and then weed for hours, filling the garden cart with weed bodies. When I get to the end of the book or the end of the garden, I get a new book on tape and begin again.

Someday, I hope my sun garden will be so full of beautiful perennials that I can spend my time just listening to the book on tape and enjoying the flowers. Somehow, I doubt it will happen, and perhaps, real enjoyment of the flowers only comes as a result of the weeding.

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