Friday, March 27, 2009

Please Tiptoe Around (Not Through) The Tulips

(Photograph taken by Janet Draper)

In this week’s "Home Section" of The Washington Post, Adrian Higgins writes an interesting article about the damage done to flowers and plants by crowds and festivities during the Inauguration (“For Smithsonian, a Sad Souvenir of the Inauguration.”) Higgins interviews Mary Draper, a horticulturist with the Smithsonian Institution, where they discuss the trampling the gardens took during this time of national celebration.

(Photograph of Mary Draper by Juana Arias of The Washington Post)

Friends tried to prepare Ms. Draper for the damage done, but “….when a shell-shocked Draper got there the next day, she found the mulch had been turned to dust, 3,000 pansies and other winter plants were gone, evergreen shrubs had been beaten in and several prized woody plants had disappeared.” Have you ever done anything on a par like plant 3,000 pansies? Every joint and muscle in your body will remind you about it for days.

As we enter this time of nature's renewal: garden cleanup, and reading our favorite plant catalogues: wondering what we can afford in this time of economic hardship (and plants ain’t cheap, folks,) you need to remember that plants will tolerate only so much. "Cal? Keep your soccer ball out of that flower bed!" Ask my amsonia.

(photograph by Juana Arias of The Washington Post)

What these images from The Post remind me of is something I read about a few years ago regarding Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. During the time of the kidnapping (and murder) of their son, their sorrow became a world-wide media event, with reporters and the curious trampling through their property, trying to keep on top of the "scoop." Anne Morrow Lindbergh later wrote in her journal of her further sorrow, when spring arrived, and all of the white tulips she had anticipatingly planted coming up mangled and destroyed, from the foot pounding of the earth above their resting place; and for her, a hauntingly symbolic reminder of what her family had been through and their loss.

If you’ve ever had to spent three days chopping deep into a weed’s root system to clear gardening space, or baby along something that could be irreplaceable (your grandmother’s narcissus,) it’s wise to remember that plants are genetically wired to take somewhat of a pounding from nature, but they can endure only so much. We are not, of course, discussing bamboo that backhoes so dearly love, or that trumpet vine I was warned about that refuses to fall on its sword and die. I have sliced it’s root stem open and poured straight Round-Up on it, and I swear I heard it say, “I laugh at you, you foolish woman.” Slice away. I will return.”

The Sarah Palin of Plants. Pretty, yes? Try getting rid of it.

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