Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Unplanned Planthood

Mars and I did not plant the kernel that has sprouted into an NBA-basket-height (and still growing) sunflower in the perennial garden that lives on the south-side of our garage and into which each summer we wedge a small number of tomato plants – this year five – now adjacent to their towering green neighbor.            

The seed instead came from the bird feeder out in front of our family room.  And was spread either directly or digestively by one of the many sparrows, finches, squirrels and others that take their sustenance from that food server and/or the ground beneath on which I also spread the daily fare for those unable to eat on high.

 (I will stop to mention with some pride that among “those unable to eat on high” are our resident tree rodents who for the past several annums have been thoroughly thwarted by my “tube feeder within a cage – birds only” cafeteria.  It really works.)

Annually these Helianthus horn in on our otherwise meticulously planned flowerbeds – well maybe “meticulous” is a tad overreachy.  But they’re not totally random either.  At least to my somewhat biased eye.  This however is the first time ever in our long horticultural history that we appear to be on our way to having an award-worthy weed as the centerpiece of our landscape.

 It appeared shortly after Mars and I had planted our quintet of tomato plants in the nine square foot area between the gooseneck loosestrife and the tall, yellow daisy-like flowers that we either snuck back via Southwest Airlines from our daughter-in-law and son’s garden in New Mexico, or rescued from the about to be “put to bed’ garden of one of my fellow men’s garden club members.  (Ninety percent of our perennials come from similar backgrounds – so who can remember.)

Initially neither of us recognized it for what it was – instead thinking it was another one of those sometimes intriguing, more often infuriating weeds that pop up pretty much anywhere on our property, pretty much anytime (growing season or not).  So we let it grow to see which.  It appeared to have no interest in halting its vertical climb and when its elephant-ear shaped leave began to shade and even enwrap the incipient edible nightshades I began lopping them off.  Now the entire east side of the stem – which is rapidly approaching the thickness of my wrist – is totally bereft of vegetation.  This evidently is allowing the mini-tree to put more of its energy and willpower into towering.


The tomatoes meanwhile are doing just fine.  In fact they may turn out to be possibly the best crop we’ve ever had – including years past (before we discovered local farm stands and Farmers Markets) when we planted many more in a much larger area.  All in spite of not cutting off the lower tomato branches – thus ignoring this year’s most prevalent tip for bigger fruits and more bounteous crops.

We also have, unbidden, a squash (or cucumber) growing next to our front door step.  It is on its second set of yellow flowers – the first iteration having been eaten by another one of the wildlife that pass through our property – perhaps rabbit, perhaps skunk.


Over the years Mars and I have become quasi-laissez-faire gardeners. "Quasi" because we still weed, and maintain favorable social distances between our shrubs by pruning the intruders back and sequestering them behind wire barriers. Laissez-faire because we trust the plants to take care of the rest.

It is probably good that, as we get older, they seem willing to take on more responsibility.



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