Thursday, April 19, 2012

Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink

If you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you might be puzzled by the title of today's post.

We haven't had rain in weeks.  Early summer-like temperatures add to the misery (misery for plants, parched as they are).

I recently adjoined two flower beds: the lantern bed and the crescent bed bordering the stone patio. Even 14 inches down, the soil is arid. With merely traceable snow this winter, above-average temperatures for months, and limited spring rains, we face a considerable problem moving into the summer.

So when I see my Tiarella Dark Star Foam Flower, rather neighborly with Brunnera and its sky blue flowers (or might that be sea blue?), I think of the sea foam that forms on (some) beaches--and I feel refreshed.

Tiarella, some websites inform us, like consistently moist soil.

However, I purchased it at Mt. Cuba in Delaware (one of the several DuPont estates and gardens), and was told it tolerated well dry soil, being a native of woodlands (where tree roots presumably absorb all available moisture).

And mine is doing extraordinarily well in its raised bed underneath a Norwegian maple tree (the most notorious moisture thief transplanted to North America)!

Despite her nomenclature, she is a good natured gal.

(Some may take offense at that statement.)

But really, with her name, what can you expect?

Tiarella, as in from the Greek tiara. Think princess. Stuck-up. Bossy. Demanding. Some prissy prima donna, first lady of the stage, a Maria Callas refusing to sing because of some pretense or intuited offense.

If you think her given name is any indication of her personality, well, then, meet her family: Saxifragaceae.

Yes, Sax.

How about this spelling: Saks (as in Fifth Avenue)?

Our darling little princess, it seems, has expensive taste, or is from a family of expensive tastes!

But, alas, she is quite modest--so modest that she has rewarded my virtual neglect of her with masses of foam flowers (even during Mother Nature's desertification of Delaware).

Corydalis, the harlot of my garden, accents Tiarella's bright yellow anthers (a bit of seduction, eh?! I hear her whisper: "come, burst forth my darling, give me your seed..."),

while the blue of Brunnera communes so nicely with Tiarella's lavender-colored unopened buds. They are intimate friends; you can see that in the way they delicately reach out to each other, comforted by the other's presence.

In the distance, Solomon's Seal shamelessly offers himself to her: unburdened by undergarments, his flowers dangle from his stems. One wonders if they know that their displays of purity white belie their highly sexualized presence.

So we wait. We wait for sexual contact, made possible through the few honey bees I've seen and massive sized bumble bees (so large they don't have stingers but carry switchblades). 

We wait for rain.

Yet here we have a collection of drought-tolerant plants: Brunnera (macrophylla), Corydalis, Solomon's Seal, and of course, Tiarella, the star of the garden. How do we know? Her leaves tell us so...

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