GARDEN FOR MAY 3, 2008
The second Monday night of every April and May the Garden Club of Lincoln has their annual plant sales. But it is more than a sale!! Some 40 years ago when I first joined it was the beginning of my yard. One could almost guarantee the plants would grow as:
1. They already came up in a Lincoln yard, and
2. They were newly dug with their dirt still attached.
3. As we have garden tours every summer, I had probably seen them blooming in some special place to know where they like it.
4. You also knew their growers and could talk to them about proper care.
A good number of those plants are still in my yard and I can remember their “parents”. This makes the garden a personal affair-perhaps this is why it is also so crowded. Other plants were given to me when their owners moved or retired to a “no plant” area. Some are heirlooms from their parents, some are offspring from plants from the China trips of Harlan Hamernick and university friends to hunt for new species. One of our members has labels on her plants like “Mary’s Tall Phlox”, and “Betty’s Peony”. Think of the fun of walking through a yard like this with its variety of plants and remembering your friends at the same time.
Many years ago I came home from the plant sale with a 2 inch plant covered with bright yellow blossoms. A neat fellow, I planted it along my path in the shady area. Whoever brought it simply said “Buttercup” on the pot. It immediately did well and the next spring I had a nice clump of yellow hugging the ground. Then it dug in between the rocks lining the path, and across the gravel path (it likes good drainage), and over anything that happened to be in its way. I finally had to take it out as it could go in, on, under, or around anything. Beware of Buttercups or plant it in an enclosed area. They are beautiful, but very aggressive.
Gardeners are a giving type but beware what you admire as you will probably come home with a shovel full, a cutting, or a cup of seed. Somewhere I received several Pink Primroses (also call Mexican Primrose). It is a short (12 inch) plant with 2 inch pink blooms that likes to wander. It moved from where I had in mind and completely filled a gravel path, so I abandoned the path for one year. It is one of my favorites, but likes Lincoln and Nebraska so well you will need a hoe. Lilies are quite naked on their lower stems but now I have a pink skirt under one group. I fenced the lilies to keep the rabbits out but the Primroses ignored the fence.
Cosmos were the first flowers I ever had as a child. Burpee would send a special packet of something with your order if you said you had a child. I planted them against the garden fence and they grew until our horses reached over and ate the tops off, but I still had flowers where they could not reach. Those were the tall pink, red, and white ones with the feathery foliage that sends out seeds so you always have them. Of course they were the first ones I had to have in Lincoln, Nebraska. Now my favorites are the red or orange that grows only about three feet tall. They like it in full sun and don’t demand much water and are beloved by butterflies. One book I read says “The plant defies discipline. You should no more plant Cosmos in formal rows than you should cage a lion.”
Another gift I received several years ago was when I admired a 12 inch lavender plant coming out from under a bush. He said, “It’s only a wild Petunia (Ruella brittoniana), picked up his shovel and handed me the plant, dirt and all. So now I have it coming out from under bushes, along my paths, and into surprise areas. It does not need fertilizer or watering and blooms when other plants are drooping! I will probably have a few spares this spring.
One year I came home with a pot of “something” and found a little fuzzy grey plant hiding so I gave it a place of its own. It grew and produced a wild, fluorescent pink bloom that turned out to be Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria). Wind must have caught the seed head as next year a colony appeared some feet away. Now it comes up in the strip between the street and the sidewalk to show its preference for hot and dry. The flower is not large, just a little over an inch but you can’t beat that wild pink color. Catalogs call it a short lived perennial but the seeds come up in the fall and bloom the next spring. Not many of my blooming plants survive winter so for me it is both an annual and a perennial.
One of my interesting plants is the Tiger Lily. The bulbs were given to me because the previous owners could no longer care for their yard. The story is that her grandmother had brought them from the East in a small bucket under the covered wagon. They are a bright orange, and reproduce by small bulbs that appear in the angle of the leaves and not from seed. They do not require baby sitting of any kind. I have given many away.
Most every community has some kind of a garden club or specialty organization or one is available within a reasonable driving distance. I recommend you join the African Violet Society, the Rose Society, The Iris Club, the Orchid Club, or any garden club. They are fun and they are generous!!!