Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Glory hound

This year we planted morning glories. All summer we waited for the glory. A few flowers here, a few there. Today: very many.
The tale begins not in spring, exactly, but when we finally got around to doing something with the bare concrete foundation that borders the patio after talking about it for about four years. We took some light-weight lattice pieces left over from the front porch built last year, whacked them into shape and got them planted into the dirt against the foundation. There was some discussion over what kind of shape our whacking had left these structures in. (She: they’re not straight. Me: so what?)
But at least we had something for plants to climb. Since we were planting in flower boxes and pots instead of deep nourishing earth, we decided perennials were too risky and bought some morning glory seedlings – an annual – from a local florist. We were well into June. The plants started to grow, the tendrils found their way onto the thin cross-hatchings of our support structures and headed on up. We waited for the flowers. We got a flurry starting some time in July and continuing into August; mostly small, soft pink flowers; some pink and whites ones. But these seem to run out without ever producing much or a show. We got a flurry of classic sky blue flowers, the best of the blossom bunch, because they were about three times as large as the others and made a better show against all those green leaves.
I had also started some morning glory plants from seed in a cold frame, knowing they would be much later to bloom. The leaves produced by these are different, but when the vines tangle it’s not clear who’s making the flowers. We began to get flowers from these much later in the summer, though the vines looked stronger. The overall look was complemented (or at least varied) by some pots of ornamental bean plants I also started from seed. In mid August they put out neat purple blossoms which give way to a deep purple seedpod – the beans, I suppose. They hang there like happy angels, adding color to the effect.
On the good dry days of summer weekends we breakfasted on the bistro set under the oak, we had a good view of the vines on the lattice. Those big blue flowers were particularly appreciated then, when we had them.
So we have some good days, some bad days with nothing to speak of blossoming, and most days just a couple of flowers. But nothing that really screams “morning glory!”
Now here we are, mid-September, and today I see twenty to thirty flowers, more than I can easily count. (I go out and count: thirty.)
The irony of unpredictable New England weather, one reflects. The developmental delays of a rainy summer. The questionable back of the house site, with its midday sunny window, the shade pulled down on both ends of the day. The choice to plant in window boxes and plastic containers. The underlying question of an amateur, try-anything approach. There were no guarantees they would do well.
But today, when it is too dark to appreciate them truly, and rather cool, and quite nastily windy so that you don’t really want to be outdoors, people hurry from their cars to their errands downtown without lingering, the flowers live up to their names: glorious, in pink and blue. A different, darker blue and smaller than the classic big blues we had earlier, but lending a nice dark color contrast. A “statement,” as we might say of a work of art.
The morning glories have made a statement. However ironic the context.