Anna’s Garden: Flamboyant flora | AspenTimes.com
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Anna’s Garden: Flamboyant flora

Anna Naeser

I look around me and every living being seems to be showing off. Young women are prancing around in skimpy, diaphanous fashions, while young men zoom by in skintight cycling gear. My neighbor’s rosebush is reaching for the eaves, spilling onto the lawn, flaunting gorgeous lipstick pink roses. Trees and shrubs, kaleidoscopes of green, are shimmying and shaking with the wind, sending pollen flying or enticing all manner of flying pollinators. Trying to reproduce just a single image in words is like trying to capture the movement of the water of the Fryingpan River. If I pull my gaze from the temptation of the overall view to a close-up of my own garden, then a picture comes into focus.Every time I walk from my car to my door, I pass my sweetly blooming Hall’s Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica “Halliana.” Unlike the expensive store-bought stuff, this perfume doesn’t make me gasp for fresh air; I wish it would linger instead of granting only one whiff at a time to my sadly inadequate human nose. If you’d asked me to describe the flowers to you yesterday, I would have said they are small trumpets, bicolor cream and white, turning a soft buff yellow as they fade. Today I went over to my unassuming vine to make sure I was getting my description right. Heavenly! Now, where was I? Well, this vine is just about bi- everything except the color! The stems spring two by two from their main framework and the pairs of perfectly symmetrical oval, green leaves, paler on the underside, grow opposite each other. Two buds on very short stalks appear in each leaf axil, (the angle between leaf and stem) rising from a set of sepals (small, modified flower leaves). Greenish nubbins elongate into closed tubes until they open 1-to 2-inch long white lips. The upper petal is partly divided into four fingers, a hand with no thumb, gracefully arching back. Anyone, a bee for instance, alighting on the narrow landing strip that forms the lower petal, runs the gauntlet of the sexual parts, elegant, spidery white filaments curving up beyond the flower: five stamens tipped with gold pollen anvils and one shorter pistil topped with a minute green knob. Each flower progresses from white to cream through buff to dull yellow as it ages, with all colors on the plant simultaneously.So here’s the gardener who’s always preaching, “Pay attention” and it has taken her only about 20 years to notice this extraordinary flower! To my disappointment, I lost a rose and a clematis this winter. Growing on the same arbor, Lonicera sempervirens, a trumpet honeysuckle native to eastern America, is exulting over the demise of its competition by pouring a waterfall of luminous light orange flowers over its bluish-green leaves. It has traded perfume for color, irresistible to hungry hummingbirds and me. These flowers really are trumpets, and they really are bicolor! Slightly flared and scalloped pinkish-orange tubes reveal a bright daylily-yellow lining, displaying a delicate bouquet of pistil and stamens to match. The serendipitous background of Schubert chokecherries is at its Joseph’s coat stage – no longer green, not quite maroon – magnifying the impact of the rather strange and wonderful color. Each cluster of flowers has a saucer of leaf fused around the stem, and when it is spent, a ring of tiny green stubs like a six-pointed star remains. The trumpet honeysuckle is a twiggy, untidy vine, but it flowers lightly all summer and again more heavily in early fall. Can my garden, in the garden of Basalt, inside the larger Roaring Fork Valley garden, like nesting boxes, possibly be as beautiful again as it is now – when the young men and women get tired, the honeysuckle perfume disappears, the roses shed their petals, and the leaves desiccate from the hot wind? But wait, wow, the cherry tree is laden with fruit – is it starting to plump up? Do I see the first silver lace vine blossoms already? Summer flies. Before we know it, the aspens will be changing color and the rabbitbrush will bloom. But first, I hope you can picture my honeysuckles.Anna gardens in Basalt with her husband, Gerry, and black poodle, Maggie. She thinks that whatever stage the garden cycle is in is the best one. She would love to hear from you at annasgarden@sopris.net or at mail@aspentimes.com with “Anna’s Garden” in the subject line.


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