This week, a few wonderful flowering plants for March, plus some thoughts on why we suffer in our gardens.
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite, the bird of paradise; this is about as tough and rewarding a plant as one can find, provided it receives full Florida sun and not too much water. Add fertilizer, and you will see blooms starting in March or so and throughout the summer. This plant requires nearly no maintenance. Plants often don’t flower for a few years after planting, so be patient. It’s worth it.
From the Clerodendrum genus comes a large, coarse-textured shrub called starburst, with huge flowers that look like, well, imagine fireworks blowing up into a starburst and you get the picture. Another very forgiving plant, starburst also demands full sun and will not take wet feet. Count on a 6- to 8-foot shrub with beautiful leaves.
Last year, I wrote about oxera, an unusual vine so wonderful that I am repeating it here. This is a woody, delicate vine requiring sun for winter blooming but preferably some protection from the summer sun. The white flowers are heavy, pendulous, with a bit of yellow, and the vine is a strong climber.
Why do we garden?
Why do I toil in the cold and the heat of the garden, often with results less than spectacular?
A few days ago I was speaking with a young actress named Danni Simon. The daughter of a long-time yoga friend, Danni is preternaturally self-possessed and a very pretty young woman. As it happens, she has been appearing in a play in New York and was mentioned in the New York Times a week or so ago as a “particularly notable.”
Last Tuesday evening I came home around 9 p.m. after teaching a class for Collier Adult Education. Danni and her mother, the amazing Kathy Simon, were sitting around talking with Suzie about whatever it is that women talk about when men aren’t present (men, of course, prefer to share feelings with one another).
I asked her how she reacted when she read the incredible notice in the Times. She beamed. I asked her how she felt, and she quickly explained that she was thinking that the next morning, the show was over, and that she was once again out of work. I wonder about this.
There’s a long-running discussion in the philosophy of art that goes something like: Art is in the creation, not in the product, and in this sense the product has no relevance at all. This notion is appealing in many ways, and is nowhere truer than in the art of acting.
Each one of us creates the art of our lives with idiosyncratic peculiarity. At the same time there is the struggle in forestalling a tetchy attitude driven by the need to pay the mortgage and the grocer.
Is there joy watching the seeds become seedlings, later to be set out in the garden with, as we all know, at least some chance of failure? The act of planting, or the act of anticipation, of covering our bases lest failure find our young seedlings?
Readers will recall a story from last Thanksgiving which tried to unravel the sensibilities of a cat curled up in my lap. What is kitty thinking? Does she contemplate her course of action should said lap disappear? Does she have a secondary plan?
She doesn’t. She simply lives in the moment, and in the same way I put out plants, and I pull weeds knowing full well that the same action is to be repeated again and again with no promise of success or failure. There is zen in the action itself. Sure, I love tomatoes. But they are cheaper at Publix. At the same time, of course, success comes in its own special, savoring moment: Pulling luscious tomatoes from the vine has no predictive quality but is indelibly sweet.
Young Danni has the fullness of soul more properly shown by those possessing hugely more life experience. Like all of us, she contends with the exigencies of life. The work here for all of us is resisting syncretism. The joy of life and the expectations of tomorrow are not to be melded, ever. In the end, in the beginning, we all walk alone in the world, moment by moment. The future doesn’t exist. And, that being the case, eschewing expectation is surely the path to happiness.
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