May flowers

Posted: May 7, 2011 in gardening
Tags: ,

The very best part of May, when I was growing up and in grade school, was the quarter mile WALL of lilac bushes at St. Bridget’s school.  You could smell it a long way coming, and all day in school when the windows were open (which was often).  A task was always given to one or two girls (always girls) every day to pick lilacs for a May altar*, which was set up in a front corner every classroom.  Typically, this was a reward for doing best on a test or a spelling bee or something.  I got to go pick the lilacs fairly often because I was a good student, but an especially good student in May.  Lilacs are my very favorite flower, and they only exist in early to mid-May.

(And I won second place on the Northern Illinois Regional Spelling Bee in 8th grade.  Alan Cox won first place.  (Alan has his own Wikipedia page now.  I think this is cool.  I get to still be one of his FB friends, too.)  I went down on the very first word I was asked to spell, which was ‘quietus‘.  Quietus.  I mean, really, have you ever used that word in your life?)  (And in the interest of full disclosure, Alan and I were the only two kids that showed up that Saturday morning.  So, technically, I was last place, too.)

On my very first visit to Mark’s house, three years ago, I noticed he had a gigantic lilac bush in the front of the house.  That would have been sometime in June, and the lilacs themselves were bloomed out, but I just stared at it.  ‘Taking it as an omen’ would be a strong phrase for the feeling, but it was almost that.

The bush is taller than the first story of the house, but only half of the plant is blooming.  I find this bizarre, and curious, and am thinking I should feed the plant something.  (Wonder if it would find the incessantly barking dogs next door palatable.)

I love to grow roses, too.  Cut roses are lovely and all, but what I really like is growing them.  Red roses are lovely, but there’s a zillion rose varieties, each with a different personality.  My Pop-pop had a wall of huge rose bushes and climbers in his back yard.  We didn’t go to Philadelphia often growing up, but I do remember them towering over me.  And I remember that his trick was to use eggshells and coffeegrounds in his soil, to help them grow.  I do the same.  Whenever I find a place that I get settled in and becomes a home instead of just a ‘pad’, I plant roses.

I put two hybrid teas in wine barrel pots out front….a dark burgundy variety called Lasting Love, and a cream/burgundy mix, Double Delight (which is one of my favorites, and I’ve grown it before, hardy and fragrant)  The Lasting Love bloomed already, and the bloom is already looking ill….transplant shock, no doubt.  The Double Delight has one solid cream colored bloom on it (which is strange, also transplant shock, I think), which is wonderfully fragrant.  Now that they have their permanent home, hope they both do well.

I’ve got two climbers to put in:  Fourth of July and Joseph’s Coat, both of which I’ve grown before.  Both did well, especially the Joseph’s Coat.  I’ve got serious work to do to put great soil down in a huge hole, and hoping I have time to do it sooner rather than later.  When I suggested a place for one of the climbers, he said, “Will we be able to see it from the deck?”  As in….won’t it be small down there?

Silly man.  Don’t you worry about that, honey.  I’ll make sure it doesn’t eat the house.

*  I like having lilacs for Beltaen for the same reason.


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