Friday, August 17, 2007

Who?s your buddy?


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Dana Dugan

Flowers, for many of us, are long lost friends. They visit, sometimes with a splash, and then leave us wanting more. Sometimes we forget what a pain in the "derrière" they are in the long run and wish we'd made plans to be away during their visit. Mostly though, we look forward to them no matter what trouble they bring.

For instance, after a brief but satisfying visit with our old friends Daffodil and the divine Tulip, Iris shows up. She's such a show-off, with her gaudy beards—we bask in her exotic beauty and then when she departs it's as though she stirred us all up only to leave us with a tangled mess of roots and stalks. We think sometimes that it'd be best if we'd never met her at all.

Euphorbia are happy plants, as the name implies, but pushy! Lordy, every year I forget how they take over the place and set down roots in places they don't belong. Careful if you decide to befriend this beguiler.

Like summer pals who come for a short tantalizing visit that promises more, Peonies arrive in June and cheer us on. They're lively, though can become depressed when it rains. They just need some attention to prop them back up, but alas, within a couple weeks they are gone until next year. We miss them, but look, our old friends the Poppies have arrived. Oh, they're joyous and fun to be with. They fill our lives and gardens with blooms that amaze every year. But they get untidy when they go, leaving nasty stalks and big brown heaps in their wake. It's best to clean up after these fast or you're apt to resent them altogether.

One of my friends, Petunia, hangs around all summer with invitation and water. She's dependable, bright and not too demanding. The Herb family is the same and comes in many flavors, scents and foliage. Herbs are the healthiest pals we have and ones worth knowing.

Other reliable old friends are Salvias, Veronicas and Sages who are all related to each other. They kind of have big egos, so if you want them to keep blooming cut them back—it helps. Lupines are our tough buddies. They move into the neighborhood, look terrific and kind of take over for awhile. Though they need to be invited back every year, Snapdragons, Zinnias and Geraniums are like the aunties who toddle back to the seaside cottage every summer, chat on the porch and sip ice tea. There is no doing without them for colorful tales and nostalgia.

For my tastes, Lily is simply one of my best and most longed-for friends. While she's more beautiful and better dressed than all the others, she never makes one feel less as long as she has at least half a day of sun in which to live. Lavender, Valerian, Heuchera and Ageratum love being with her. Rose is a bit jealous so there can be friction, but Rose is a prickly gal to begin with.

I can barely think of garden without faithful and undemanding Lady's Mantle. Her broad foliage sits up happily even after her early yellow blooms. She radiates happiness and keeps watch, year in year out. She's the grand dame of the summer place.

Finally, Hollyhocks move in, keeping us in good, easy and cheerful company for the remainder of the summer.




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