Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July Flowers

When we first moved to Pinehaven on New Year's Day in 1987, we had no idea what the next summer would bring. But one thing it brought was tiger lilies ... and plenty of them. The front flower bed was composed only of tiger lilies - not another flower bloomed. By the telephone poles there were more tiger lilies. Across the road, surrounding the telephone junction box, there were yet more. Drive anywhere in this area in July and you'll see tiger lilies lining the roadways. They pick the most inhospitable spots to inhabit and they flourish there.

In fact, a tiger lily seems intent on growing where nothing else will. When we found our flower beds inundated with them, I went about digging them all up. I piled the tubers on a compost pile in the meadow and let them air dry. That was the end of that!
Well, no. The flowers you see above are the progeny of those I threw out so many years ago. They sunk roots through the compost pile and by the next spring, again they reared their orange heads. I've decided they are pretty there - prettier there than the other weeds - and so I've left them alone. I can look out the kitchen window, through the row of pines, and see the spikes of bobbing orange. Or, driving up the road, they present a pretty sparkle through the high grasses. Tiger lilies know the meaning of tenacious.

Now, the plant above came out of a seed packet. It's portulaca (moss rose) and we often grow these tiny plants for their variety of color. A single packet of seed generates a veritable rainbow. These were planted in an old tin washtub which sits upon an old pine stump. They give the backyard a splash of color.

Speaking of tenacious, who can call Queen Anne's Lace anything but? These carrot relatives are everywhere and a single bloom head contains thousands of individual flowers. Together they are natural white lace. I love even the scent. Whoever said "a weed is simply a flower where it's not wanted" was on the mark. What flower bed wouldn't be improved by Queen Anne's Lace? They grow anywhere, without a bit of attention and without a care in the world. When a light breeze blows, they are delicacy in motion. All roadsides are improved by this plant.

Chicory, too, has made its way in the world of the unwanted. Right now, as July warms and summer is entrenched, chicory blooms with that special powdery blue that is unique to this plant. Where else do we find this exact color? The sky should be envious! To think this plant yields a filler for coffee (or even a drink in its own right). I know my birthday (July 13) is near when chicory reaches its peak. I associate it with my birthday as surely as I do lightning bugs.

And inside Pinehaven, Mom's African Violet is putting on a spectacular show. This particular plant produces an ivory flower edged in blue. It sits inside the north window just as my Aunt Belle's did when I was a young child. I remember her violet well. It was large - even huge - and sat upon an old smoking stand that was my uncle's (my middle name is George; I am named after him and indirectly after George McClellan, the Civil War general). I'd open the door to the stand and breathe in the lingering smell of tobacco. Though my uncle was dead two years before I was born, the scent of his tobacco remained. It's a wonder I never smoked, I loved it so.

Now, as mid-July approaches, our flower beds may require special care and extra water, but the weeds are on their own and truly in their element.