I love flowers. Nasturtium, lantana, hibiscus, lavender, hydrangea, orchids, roses… I can even respect the beauty of oleanders, albeit wondering why anyone would want something so poisonous anywhere near anyone they love.
Among my favorites are morning glories, but my absolute favorite is the gorgeous and exotic night-blooming cereus. My cereus currently has seven bunny tails (soft, furry buds), and I’m hoping that the spring rains don’t beat them all off the plant before they have the chance to bloom, as they did last year. This plant was a cutting from the Mother Ship down the street—that one logged in at over 120 blooms a couple of years ago! I can only aspire.
One of the reasons that the morning glories and the cereus are my favorites is because I have two brown thumbs. I’m not a gardener, you see. To call my style of gardening “benign neglect” is to be WAY too kind. But the morning glories grow wild in my garden, and the cereus hums along happily so long as it gets some water when it’s dry. It’s the only plant I take in or cover when the frost warnings come out down here in Florida.
The only other things that grow without anyone tending seems to be Brazilian Pepper and the oak trees. In my yard, those are serious pests! I currently have six—yes, SIX—oak tree saplings growing in and through my chain-link fence, and two more growing up through the hedge in my front garden. I can’t keep up with them. I’m 61 years old with arthritis in my hips and back, I can’t do the work that it would entail to dig them out, root and branch, and I don’t have the funds to pay someone else to do it. And I’ve given up on the Brazilian Pepper. NOBODY can keep up with that!
So I take my pleasures where I can get them. When I take the dog out for her walk in the morning I say hello to the morning glories that are blooming, and tell them how beautiful they are. And I pet the bunny tails on the cereus and tell them I can’t wait to see them bloom. And I take pictures of them, to document each stage, because let me tell you, when they bloom they are absolutely BREATHTAKING! 8 to 10 inches across, and such a pure white that they glow in the dark. When they go off this year I’ll see if I can post some pictures. If you don’t know, they only bloom one night a year, though sometimes the blooms go off at different times, making the show last for up to a week. If all of mine bloom, that will happen over several days. I love it!
The fun thing about my garden is that it did it its own self. When I moved into my house, the garden was a disciplined hedge precisely cut to within an inch of its life, two beautifully blooming bird-of-paradise plants, and three rose bushes under my bedroom window. The bird-of-paradise never bloomed again, though their foliage remains with a haughty nose-in-the-air stubbornness. Two of the rosebushes died, but the third held on until my house fire in 2004. The fire never touched it (it was all internal), but oddly enough when I moved back in after the house was redone the rosebush was gone. Completely. Root and branch, thorns and all. Just an empty space between the hedges. I can only say “?”
And, of course, the ubiquitous plethora of weeds.
But then the morning glories showed up, and the pothos that I was told was philodendron grew out of its pot and moved in, and a hibiscus appeared in the perfect space where the porch roof turns the corner. And this past year a flowering bush mysteriously moved in at the corner of the house. We have decided it is an azalea, and I gloried in its beautiful explosion of pink petals.
Nobody dug the soil. Nobody planted the bushes. Nobody trims or tends them. Perhaps it was garden fairies, taking pity on my poor, neglected garden and deciding to cheer us up by giving us this gift. If so, I thank them from the bottom of my heart, because they’re beautiful.
The Brazilian Pepper, not so much. I’m pretty sure it was some bird carrying the berries and dropping them into the midst of my crepe myrtle. It has all-but strangled the poor myrtle, its staves shooting up almost overnight through the myrtle’s branches. It doesn’t even have the grace to grow into the myrtle, standing aloof within it while the myrtle’s branches touch and embrace and become one.
Was there a point to this post? Not really. I just wanted to share my wild garden with you. Because, hey, morning glories.
And because life deserves the incredible beauty of the night-blooming cereus.