Tuesday, May. 20, 2008
Dear Diary:

Gardening is like love. Sometimes you know it's going to end badly, but you jump in anyhow because the chemistry is just so overwhelming you can't help yourself.

This weekend the spousal unit and I drove an hour to The Really Big Nursery so that I could squander several hours and about $50 on birthday plants. It is a testament to his affection for me that the spousal unit is willing to spend that much time in a place which basically bores him to tears.

Dithering. There is massive, massive dithering on my part. If he dragged me to a building supply store and forced me to tag along with him while he dithered for two hours over tools, well ... oh, man, I owe this man big time for his patience.

There are two sorts of plants that sing to me. One is anything with an interesting leaf, which is why I adore hostas so much. The other is any plant with a blue flower.

Blue is a subjective thing in the garden. Lots of plants that catalogues call blue are actually purple. But there are a few true blues—my brunera is one of them, as are some delphiniums, and forget-me-nots. And oh, man, Siberian scilla come in this incredible Monet blue that has to be seen to be believed.

But the apogee of blue, the holy grail of blue for gardeners is Meconopsis betonicifolia also known as the Blue Himalayan poppy.

The web site I've linked to makes it sound as if it's easy to grow this plant, but it isn't. This plant requires extremely specific conditions to grow—it wants cool and wet, but well-drained soil. It wants acidic soil and dappled light. Too much fertility and it won't survive the winter. Not enough fertility and it won't bloom. A native of Tibet, Burma and China, it often grows on the edge of yak meadows at an elevation between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

I have lusted after this plant since the 1980's. I have tried growing it from seed more times than I want to admit with absolutely no luck. The few times I've seen it offered for sale as a potted plant, because it is such a challenge to grow, it has been in the $25 per plant range. This is more than I can spend on something that might prove to be an annual here.

There is a very famous garden here in Quebec called the Reford Gardens which is internationally known for its exquisite design and unique plants. It's also famous because the Blue Himalyan poppy thrives there. Thrives.

It has always driven me mental that about four hours from where I live there are literally hundreds of these plants flourishing. Flourishing. But then, this garden is in a very unique micro climate.

So, like I said, there I was dithering away and I noticed pots of this very non-descript plant off in one corner of the nursery. In the plant was a marker with a plant picture that looked a lot like Blue Himalyan Poppy, but this was an $8 plant, and, well, the Blue Himalyan Poppy usually costs three times as much.

I almost had a seizure when I read the plant label and realized I was looking at the real deal. At a price I could actually afford. I let out a little squeal sound, which made the plant shoppers around me all look at me in that "well, she's definitely crazy but hopefully not violent" sort of way.

Didn't care.

Bought two.

I've planted them in front of the porch. That way I can watch them obsessively carefully monitor them. The sun cuts out there around 11 a.m., which makes is one of the cooler spots on the property. The earth there is high in compost, the bed is raised so it will drain well, and I can water them daily because they're just inches from the hose.

Plus I can watch them obsessively. Every time I go in or out of the house. Oh, and don't think I won't. Every little millimeter of growth will be duly noted and celebrated.

Normally these plants flower in June and July but mine look to be too tiny to do that. I would guess that if they flower at all, it will be late summer. Feel free to offer up incantations on my behalf so that hopefully they will flower at least once.

To cushion myself from the blow of a broken heart, I've decided to view these plants as extremely spendy annuals. I've made their purchase the gardening equivalent of a summer fling. I will love them with all my heart as long as they're around, and accept that it's most likely that a long term commitment was not meant to be.

Better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all, right?

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 183.11 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles


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