Thursday, August 19, 2010

8.7 Window Flower

In August things are quieter in the garden. Most of our perennials have come and gone. I busy myself cutting off faded blooms, and cutting back dried foliage, flower stalks and stems. Meanwhile the morning glory takes a gulp of sunshine, mixes in a little water, and climbs voraciously – I don’t think it’s hungry but that’s what it looks like – up the shingles on the back of the house.
The vines form a pyramid under my work room window. I see the tendrils pirouette and twine against the screen. If I opened the window, I have no doubt they would come right in and begin turning my desk into a real, as opposed to a metaphorical, jungle.
You can see how abandoned houses soon get birch trees in the parlor.
This is our second year of planting morning glory – whose blooming habits are as good as its name – at the back of the house. Last year we built an ad hoc trellis from pieces made of lightweight wooden crisscrossed battens left behind by the two men who built our front porch. We drove the wood into the dirt and tacked the tops into the shingles. We planted the morning glory, an annual, in pots of soil. It was late in the season by the time we were ready so we bought seedlings. They climbed and bloomed in September.
This year we built the morning glory wall from seed. I planted the seed in my garden seedbed early in the season and transplanted the seedlings into the pots. They grew fast, climbed aggressively. I realized they needed a new height to strive for, and hammered some nails into the shingles below my window. Now the tendrils are climbing above the window. Ain’t no mountain high enough.
Where will they go now? While we wait to find out, I’m kept busy watering the pots every day.
There comes a time in late summer every year when you turn to annuals for color. We’re had luck with a Mandeville rose we put in a big pot on the patio with its very own specially purchased trellis. It makes showy rose-red flowers, set off by deep green climbing foliage. As soon as it started growing we began speculating on how we could keep it alive over the winter.
After morning glory seedlings grew up and left the nursery, I grew cosmos in my seedbed. They sprouted thickly, too thickly, because (sentimentalist that I am) I never thin successful germinations. We ended up with a couple score of eager cosmos which I now realize were probably already too thin when I transplanted them. We now have thirty or so rather spindly cosmos plants scattered in strategic locations around the front and back gardens, making tall stems with little round discs of flower on top. A few, owners of the choicest location, are growing sturdier stalks and flowers in a small plot near the vegetables. Another art to master.
But the morning glory blossoms do light up the mornings in the waning days of summer.