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terribleturnip

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The Seeds of Time [Sep. 27th, 2011|01:42 pm]
terribleturnip
Marigold smell. You tend to either love it or hate it. When I was younger, I always grew marigolds. Heck, I even won some blue ribbons at the fair. But in this yard, I don’t know...not enough space to make buying seed and sowing them worthwhile and a couple of times I put in plants, but they never thrived. So, I sort of gave up.

But at Christmas, my mother showed me a giant jar of seeds that she’d collected from the marigolds she’d grown that year. (And I grabbed a little zip lock bag…which was then augmented by another pickle-jar-full that she dropped off in early spring on her way to visit a friend.) They were particularly exciting because they were from a variety developed in my home town, and they’re not hybrids – these breed true.

So while I had plans in my garden to make space for them, I never quite got around to it. It wasn’t until fairly late in the season, when I wound up with an extra pot, that I just threw a bunch of seeds in. And they came up and I thought my goodness , they’re really leggy and the flowers very small. Pretty, a maroon, edged with orange and an orange center. Wait, I’m supposed to say Oxblood, edged with Pumpkin and be all modern – which has a little merit, because I’m looking at them right now and maroon and orange doesn’t sound very pretty. But still, very modest blossoms, for all of that foliage. I love them, because, with the exception of my toad lilies, which don’t make very good cut flowers, the flowery part of my garden is pretty much wrapped up. A chrysanthemum that should blossom soon, but in the meantime, these leggy, lacy leaved little flowers are what I have to put on my desk.

When I was back in my hometown and saw them growing in my mother and her neighbor’s gardens, I understood: these are fence flowers. They’ve been developed to grow fairly tall, fairly bushy, fairly fragrant, and sure to add some color and pollinator territory to a garden, but mostly to deter things that don’t like marigolds – bunnies and deer.

And that makes me even more fond of them – someone spent time cultivating this thing, this purposeful thing that adds beauty, gives back year after year, but also provides an additional service.

And even more fond because my mother sat in front of the television, my father gently ribbing her, picking seeds out of spent blossoms all winter long. And one day, she won’t be there to do that, but I’ll still have these flowers and so they are precious.

Which means it’s probably just a matter of time until some colossal failure of cultivation, or plague or pest infestation will kill every last one of them, every seed, and I won’t be able to grow them again. Because that is how I roll.

But that’s okay – after all, they are a thing. I will always have the memory. (Assuming the Alzheimer’s holds off, and when it doesn’t, well, there will be more pressing problems.) And I can always roam the gardens of my hometown, looking for seedheads. And if not, I will then pick an heirloom flower of my own, and cultivate it for the future. Although really, if it comes to that, I’d prefer to be raising an heirloom animal, a chicken, say.
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