Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is serious business in the Nursery World. The biggest day of all. And if you have a florist shop, look out! I bought plants for my own mother this year, which I almost always do. I'll take them over and plant them for her today. She is a lover of plants with a well-developed but not cultivated streak of individualism, so when I saw a cart of assorted exotic Passifloras at, God I hate to say it, Home Depot, I knew I had stumbled upon a good thing. And you know what? They were even named! I bought her 'Lady Margaret', with flowers. The blooms are a rich red with white centers; in my research I discovered it is supposed to have a fragrance, but I couldn't detect it. It is awfully cool though.

I am also giving her two Moonflower, Ipomoea (formerly Calonyction) seedlings. Moonflower, or Moonvine, is a giant white morning glory that flowers in the evening with an incredible fragrance. It grows like a weed, so that these small seedlings that I purchased at the Beltsville Garden Club spring sale will be 10' long and branched by the end of the summer. Often with favorable weather conditions, it flowers well into fall, though it doesn't take much frost to bring it crashing down. The sooner you can get them out, after frost danger is over, the better. The flowers open at dusk, and if you time it right, you can be sitting on your patio, porch, or deck with a glass of wine and watch the flowers unfold, it happens in just a minute or two. I admit that I am prone to hyperbole, but this really is a great plant and the only annual that I consider indispensable in a garden.

A few words about the Beltsville Garden Club. We are in many ways a typical local garden club, but the proximity of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center means that there are a few members with tremendous knowledge of the Plant Sciences. Add to that, the usual quotient of fanatical plantspeople, and a small greenhouse facility, and you have an interesting group. We have two plant sales a year in the spring with both usual and quite uncommon material available at extremely reasonable prices. I bought Arisaema sikokianum seedlings for $5 apiece. And Arisaema dracontium flowering for the same price. Unfortunately this Saturday was the last sale this year, but we gardeners are patient planners in it for the long haul. Check the website and mark your calendars.

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