Monday, Jul. 05, 2010
Dear Diary:

Tender moments.

The spousal unit has a thing for shrubs, so when we're in a nursery together I will leave him in the shrub sections and then go to The Holy Land aka The Place They Keep The Hostas.

I have so many hostas now that it's actually hard for me to find something unique enough, different enough from what I have, to make it worth buying. I haven't bought a single hosta yet this year. I know. I'm as upset by this as you are.

After my visit to The Holy Land, I'll often head off to the vine section to do some quiet yearning. I'll find the section where they keep the wisteria and studiously read all the tags, knowing full well that the plants will not be anywhere near hardy enough for my climate.

Until last weekend.

The big box stores are closing down their seasonal garden centres. The spousal unit and I hit these sales like the vultures we are, picking over the plants that no one else wanted this year and scoring them for half the price they were in the spring. He got a mock orange and a lovely rose called Champlain.

And off in the corner of a sale table I saw a Kentucky Blue wisteria. The tag said it was hardy to Zone 3 or -40 which is my climate. Be still my beating heart.

Even at half price it was still $35.

Here's the deal. Any experienced gardener will tell you that plant tags, like seed catalogues, can often be wonderful works of fiction. A plant tag can claim that a plant is extremely hardy, but then when you go back to the hive mind and browse the internets, you'll find that, uh, the truth has been stretched.

The thing with a wisteria is it's just not about the price. You have to build a major, major structure to support these rascals, which can end up weighing many hundreds of pounds. So if the tag was wrong, not only would I have tossed $35 to the wind, there would be all the expense and labour of building a support for this plant.

So I reluctantly left the pot off in its corner and came home to the internets only to find that in this case the plant was as tough as promised. Not only that, but it will often bloom within three years of planting, about five years earlier than most wisteria.

Oh man.

I turn 60 next year. While the conventional wisdom is that a woman of my generation can expect to make it to her mid-80's or so, realistically I know that I won't be living in a house this isolated and hard to get to for that long. I hope I have another 10, 15 years here, but who knows? There is a certain tick tock tick tock aspect to my gardening now.

I was pretty disappointed that I had let this plant slip through my fingers. The thing is, the big box store was 45 minutes from our home. There was one of this plant. The odds that it would still be there seemed slim indeed. I gave myself a mental shake and let it go.

Friday the spousal unit came home from work, opened the hatch of his truck and there it was. The wisteria. At the end of a long, hard day building a deck in full sun he'd taken the time to drive all the way to that store to see if the plant was still there.

It was a tender and delightful moment for me. I hadn't said much about this plant, but clearly he had listened. He knew full well how much work he'd be making for himself with this plant, but he bought it anyhow. Awwwwwwww. I let him know how touched I was by it all.

Then he had to go and open his mouth.

"Well I figured you're not getting any younger and we'd better get this in if you're going to see it flower."

I'm guessing that right about word eight would be the moment that he realized that his choice of words was, shall we say, unfortunate. Yeah, I turn 60 next year. Intellectually I know that I'm not going to be able to live in this place I love forever. Intellectually I know that every word he said was true. But emotionally? So not ready for this truth.

My face must have registered all this. He got that deer in the headlights look men get when they realize that they have really, really stepped in it and there's no graceful exit.

I had to laugh. It was too funny. His relief was palpable.

It gets worse. This plant requires full sunlight if it's going to flower. We have about ten square feet on this property which get full sunlight, and most of that is around the new pond. We both agree that the new pond is already way, way too dominant in the landscape. Throwing a massive pergola into the mix will take it totally over the top, something we are both loathe to do.

We are both paralyzed with indecision. Do we go over the top and put it near the new pond making it even more "in your face", or do we plant it somewhere where the odds it will flower drop precipitously?

Oh dear. The words "be careful what you wish for" have never been more true.

--Marn

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