Monday, March 7, 2011

Gardening Throes

Mollie writes:

Having gone all whacky on changing my theme from mothering to living to a ripe old age, I feel the compulsion to tell y'all that I took another walk through my garden. Wowzers.

The bulbs (daffodils and such) are blooming! The rest of the spring bloomers hare having their way with the earth and winning. My hellebores are painted and flirting with with the trees that smother them, and those chickweeds are running wild, naughty girls.

But there's sad news to report. My evergreen clematis (clematis armandii) is on life support. This is the fourth plant I've installed here on Kidney Island and it looks like the fourth one has died. In Tigard, I had this variety of clematis growing in my yard on a trellis on the garage and it took over and ruled the space. It bloomed pungently every year, grew and tendrilled everywhere, and remained green and lush throughout the winter. So of course I had to have one here!

This loss really hurts. Two weeks ago I could see life, the promise of blooms, the trace presence of budding. Today, nothing but brown. That ten day cold front killed my clematis. I'd weep but it would be wasted water.

We had some interesting winters in the Portland metropolitan area. Some years we had a little snow, yeah, but usually it stayed in the forties year round. Planting a clematis armandii wasn't a dare, it was gardening 101. The ladies just planted their roots. They grew and they flowered.

When we were looking for somewhere to retire, we chose Kidney Island because some friend told me it had more temperate weather. One of these days, I'm gonna hunt down that liar and make them pay.

It's a challenge to garden here, unless you've lived here all your life. What would seem to do well here sometimes doesn't. Some plants just have the good sense to pick up their skirts and run, and that's what my clematis has done. It's taken me 4 armandii to concede defeat.

So now I've got to research for a vine that is one tough old biddy. She has to withstand cold, hot, snow, rain, drought AND she can't be a rose (my husband HATES roses). So I'm off to my Sunset Gardening book to see if there's something along those lines. She doesn't have to be a clematis. She doesn't have to be evergreen. She doesn't have to have pungent creamy flowers (pause here for a moment of solace), but she does have to survive!

Meanwhile, I'm hoping to present my son and daughter-in-law with a nice clematis armandii of their own. They live in the Portland metropolitan area and will probably be whacking it back every year. I don't want to take over their own little Eden, however . . .

I'll let Clem do it!

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