Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer blooms

My Aug. 2, 2008 column

Last summer, I tried to maintain a container garden on my back patio. Since I rent, I can’t really dig a garden in my back yard, and the little patch of tillable soil already has plants. A previous tenant planted bleeding hearts and bachelor’s buttons, which come back every year.
I bought planters, and visited several local garden centers and bought zucchini, lavender, rosemary, lamb’s ear and more. I planted seeds for jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, catnip and black-eyed susans.
I grew to love summer squash as an adult, having refused to touch it as a child. What finally hooked me was a casserole my mom concocted with zucchini, onions, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and lots of cheese. I soon find myself grilling squash to eat on its own or serve on a veggie pizza and even deep-frying it.
I planted jalapenos, tomatoes and cilantro because I love to make pico de gallo. The cilantro was harvestable, but I never had a tomato, and the only jalapenos came from the plants I brought to my parents house. The peppers thrived in a pot on their driveway. My parents must have harvested about 30 peppers.
My son gave the lamb’s ear to his grandmother on Mother’s Day. Little did we know then that they’d be living in a new house a year later.
I brought the rosemary and lavender inside for the winter. The rosemary did not survive, and I nearly killed the lavender. It’s starting to thrive again in a pot on my back stoop. The catnip did not last long. My cat rolled herself on top of the first seeds that sprouted. We tried to hide subsequent plants from her until they could be moved outside, but the little addict needed her fix.
Nothing came of the black-eyed susan seeds I planted, or so I thought. I was debating what to plant in a huge black pot on my patio, when something sprouted on its own. I decided to let it grow, and was rewarded with black-eyed susans.
The front of my duplex is all asphalt, as I share a driveway and parking lot with my duplex neighbors. A few weeds pop up in the gaps where the driveway meets the stoop and the house. There is a raised bump that has cracked open between my stoop and my neighbor’s. Every summer since I have lived in this duplex, an orange daylily sprouts up there, growing thicker and taller each year.
It’s a late bloomer, given that my duplex faces north. Similar plants along roadways and in a neighbor’s yard bloom weeks before mine does.
I admire the persistence of the plant. It forces its way through and refuses to be held back by its unpleasant environment, bringing a spot of color and grace to my doorstep. The leaves remind me of yucca, a plant I saw often in Western Colorado, which thrives in a high mountain desert environment.
This daylily grows in an asphalt desert.

Perhaps it is a metaphor for life.

We may not be in an ideal environment, and have to weather less than pleasant circumstances, but it is still possible to bloom.

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