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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Flow

May 5 + 14, 2006: My gardens are home for many odds and ends plants left over from projects on the professional side of my life. I could say no; no I don't want those eight 10-foot leptospermum, but they will look beautiful when they bloom in winter. I never wanted agapanthas, but I've got them in two colors and three sizes. Same could be said for liriope. Thing is, I don't think I could stand in the way of the flow.

I really didn't want to bother with a few bearded iris rhizomes last winter . . . not my thing, though I once had a garden with a massive planting of lilac bearded iris all under various fruit trees, and it was eye-poppingly nice. But these particular orphans were old and dried out, and some of them were destined to bear unacceptably blue and white striped flowers. Still, the flow won out: bearded iris don't take much room or effort, and I felt sorry for them never getting a chance to grow.

So spring came along and the iris I had begrudgingly planted sprouted. A few petered out; maybe the rhizomes were too
dried out. One blue and white one bloomed, then it mysteriously disappeared. One produced a flamboyant yellow first bloom. Then the flow caught up with it in the form of aphids. As plants flow through a space, so too do insect populations along with the ups and downs of the prevailing conditions. As luck has it, spring is the ideal time for plants to bloom and aphids to prosper. The flower shared its short life with the aphids, then faded to a juicy senescence. Fruit flies moved in to suck on the fermenting flower. You can see a few aphid nymphs hanging on to the sepals in the 2nd photo (9 days later) trying to mature before their food source dries up.

In the end the flow has a way of playing itself out, in waves of amplification and diminishment. I have since planted more bearded iris leftovers, this time several dozen purples rejected in toto from their intended project. I find myself curiously rooting for them to flourish like garish costume jewelry and painted-on brows amongst the jeans-and-bandana aloes, sedums and grasses. I'll enjoy their extravagant blooms and their precipitous, fruit-fly-attended descent into rot as the season proceeds.

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