Thursday, July 19, 2012

Perils, Plights and Pleas of Plants

Psssssssssst………. Hey you, landowner, gardener. Remember me? I am the beautiful perennial that you purchased in May. Ah, how you loved me then. You carefully prompted me from my plastic container, gently loosened my constricted roots, amended the soil with organic matter and even added the new favorite among my kin, worm castings. Could you hear my sigh of satisfaction as you slowly added water to my roots? How wonderful life was going to be for me. My neighbors, a mixture of shrubs, trees, herbs and yes, we did allow some annuals to share our soil. We call the annuals tourists. We embrace the color and joy they add to the community during our summer season. They certainly are a hardy lot that is until it turns cold. It is said that when they depart, the locals are a little happy to get their land back. No longer do they have to fight for food in preparation for their winter nap. To me it seems so distant; something I will have to wait to enjoy. I’m just concerned with the now.

So why am I calling out to you? When you stuck that plastic tag next to my roots I wondered what it said. First I was offended. Won’t you remember who I am? You seem to know the names of your offspring gardeners or ‘children’ as you call them. When I continued to read some comfort came to light. It indicated the care I will need to flourish. Perhaps your ‘children’ had such a tag until they were established. I panicked when a rubber ball hit my tag. Then the dog, funny four legged thing, retrieved and in its wake a broken tag remained. I tried to reach the tattered top but couldn’t. Alas the ‘care’ instructions were still firmly planted.

What? Don’t walk away. I’m still speaking here. Yes, I know you only want to sit and read your new book. Why don’t you read my tag instead, what’s left of it? Since the first break it is in pieces. Perhaps you should have kept the thing with you. I digress, forgive my sprouting opinions.

It makes all us garden dwellers happy when you and all the people who live with are enjoying our out of doors. It is noticed when attention is turned to the garden as a butterfly touches down, a bee feeds or a hummingbird dances above our heads. It’s fun when someone uses the grill to make food. It must be a big thing as other landowners, ‘friends’ as you call them, add to the backyard activity. At the start of these days we were pointed out to all who visited. You were proud of me and all the other newbies in the garden. The first of these events, I smiled so wide I almost pushed out my petals, as you didn’t need to look at my then intact tag to call me by name. Love was also evident when you spoke of the whole community of plantings. So what happened?

I am not the only new addition to your garden this year. Others in my family were included. In fact a plethora of perennials came with me that day. Later we swooned at the addition of the new little shrub, are in awe of the tree that someday will be the jewel of the crown.TLC was the norm those first few weeks. So what if my time for blooming has gone by? I still have foliage! What about my roots? How do you expect me to make it through what others in my ilk refer to as a ‘Maine Winter’, if I’m not healthy?

Yea! You are looking at me. Don’t turn away. I may look ok on the outside but I’m drooping on the inside. Shrub is too distraught to bring this to your attention and Tree is too proud to ask. What is it that I am about to plead for? Water, cool, clean water. Even my care tag said water to ‘established’. For my woody friends this means until frost, for us softer guys, it means until the end of the season. You know how you like to eat? Well, you are not alone. I’ve seen your utensils, pronged things, and that concave piece called a spoon. Oh, and don’t think I haven’t seen you use your fingers?! Licked them a time or two. You may not have ever thought about how the food reaches the top of our beautiful form. Our roots. Nutrients are needed for us to do that photo…photo, photo photosynthesis, yes, that’s it. Photosynthesis is what keeps us green. Without water the food that feeds us just sits in the soil. Moisture is what makes it move.

Yes, it has rained. Often these large drops just roll off our backs and runs down the soil. That quick spray of the hose you gave me last week was just a teaser. Sometimes it’s best if you didn’t do that all. It makes me keep my roots closer to the surface to take advantage of the precious droplets. I want to stay. I want to put down strong roots. Understand, I like it here! Oh, I realize someday you may have to thin me or even move me. I want to live long enough for that special ritual. All I need is a chance. A couple of inches a week. I prefer it in one or 2 sessions. This way I am able to relax while eating. Once satisfied I can get back to work. Work? You may ask. All of us work. Our sole purpose in life is to reproduce. We can only do so if we stay alive.

Thanks for listening. I know you did because I can feel the trickle from the soaker hose. AHHHHHHHHH.

Pssssssssssst, before you go, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Yes, reproducing is our goal. To thank you we offer you beauty, fragrance and even food.

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family. KCB can also be found at the awesome Finishing Touches website.
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
July 11, 2012