Monday, Sept. 03, 2007
Dear Diary:

There's no point trying to reason with an azalea. Oh, you can point out the obvious to them, but does it register?

I think not.

It's only recently that they've been breeding azaleas hardy enough to live in my climate zone, which is Zone 3. For those of you who don't speak garden, Zone 3 is stupidly cold, Zone 4 is cold, Zone 5 is what-are-you-whining-about-I-would-kill-for-your-climate � and so on.

Over the last three years I've been treating myself each spring to one of these new-fangled extremely hardy azealas. Each spring they come covered with lovely, frilly blossoms because, after all, azaleas are supposed to flower in the spring.

And every year after that, they insist on trying to flower in the fall. This is exactly the wrong season for them to try to flower because my falls get cold. Inevitably these stupid azaleas get smacked with a frost, usually about two seconds before they are about to burst into bloom.

It is hard not to be bitter.

I have tried to point out the obvious to them.

"Do you see dingos around here?" I ask. "Kangaroos? Koalas?"

Nothing. I get nothing back, so helpful person I am, I point out to them, "No, no you do not. If you saw those things you would be in Australia, and it is spring there now. But you are not in Australia. You are in Canada. C-A-N-A-D-A. It is autumn. You are six months late to this flowering business."

Again, nothing. No justification. No apologies. It's not that they are surly exactly. Sulky and withdrawn more accurately describes their attitude.

Today I dug them all up and transplanted them. If there are any seasoned gardeners among my three loyal readers, I know that they have gasped, grabbed their pearls, and reached for the smelling salts. The last thing any seasoned gardener would ever do is transplant something about to bloom or in bloom. It's a plant's most vulnerable point, the point where it's throwing its all into reproduction.

I think I speak for us all when I say that none of us like our coitus interruptus-ed. It can throw a person into a mood. Plants, well, I feel that plants can be drama queens over the situation. They tend to up and die if you try to move them during this delicate stage.

A little snippiness, a little sarcasm, that I can see. Death? Strikes me as a tad extreme.

So why move them now, when the risk is so great? Well, something has clearly jarred their little internal clocks. All I can think is that maybe while transplanting them during the spring when I bought them, I stressed and discombobulated them. I kind of hope that by moving them this fall I'll again reset their clocks and they'll flower next spring, as the universe intended.

I have, of course, told them I'll kill them if they up and die on me. But, as I've said before, you can't reason with an azalea, so I'm guessing my threats will be wilfully ignored.

If they do die, I will be sad but not shattered. Just between you and me, azaleas on their own are a somewhat boring shrub. Take away the spectacular spring flowers and, well, I don't consider them worth growing.

Will they survive? I have no idea. I hope we have a long leisurely fall and they have lots of time to re-establish in their new home. That would be the dream. However, we could fall into winter ten minutes from now, though, and that would be the plant equivalent of dying in a twisted hunk of burning metal.

Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, but gardening can be a blood sport. It only looks gentle.


Mileage on the Marnometer: 326.99 miles Ten percent there rubber duck. Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.Half way there

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Goal for 2007: 500 miles

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