My beebalm (Monarda didyma) and anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) plants showed their first flowers of the season about two weeks ago. For the beebalm (also known as oswego tea), it is its first flower ever, so I’ve talked about it to my coworkers a bit. Beebalm flowers are supposed to attract hummingbirds as well as bumblebees. The anise hyssop not only has neat looking tufts of tiny purple flowers on a stalk, but every part of the plant, when touched, smells like licorice. How cool is that?
I’ve started to realize that I may be giving people a false impression of my garden. If you listen to me describe it (on and on), you might think it’s some kind of lush tropical rainforest, teeming with wildlife, macaws on the magnolia branches, and capuchin monkeys swinging from pawpaw to plum tree for a snack and a rest.
The truth is that some people might describe my plant beds as being more mulch than plant. Why five feet of mulch around that tiny tuft of spiky leaves (which tuft, I ask)? The entire native plant garden ensemble isn’t quite lush yet.
My pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are only six inches tall, not yet trees offering shade or fruit (although the slugs find the leaves delectable, apparently). My native plum tree (Prunus americana) is about five feet tall and having a tough time rebounding from the aphids that sucked its lifeblood for several weeks this spring; no fruit this year.
But, here’s the thing about my garden. When I look at it, I see what it will be like next year, or in five years, or in ten. I garden on faith.
As a result, two pawpaws grow near a boxelder (Acer negundo) with a grievous trunk injury, the pawpaws ready to take its place when it inevitably succumbs to internal rot (and a chainsaw) in a few years. A crooked redbud (Cercis canadensis) of about two and half feet grows across from our doorway, where I hope it will offer my wife and me shade and lovely pink blossoms… someday… when it’s big… and straightens up.
The steps from our driveway are flanked by a red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), all of eighteen inches tall, and a blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) of about three feet. The red buckeye will (join me in crossing fingers, please) produce brilliant red flowers that should attract hummingbirds in vast numbers. The blackhaw will produce beautiful clusters of white flowers that will later turn into blue/black berries that birds adore. In my mind, I see the branches of these two trees reaching across the steps to meet.
Give me a few years, and I’ll be able to show you exactly what I mean. I should be busy pruning and thinning then.
Roland works in Rockville MOMs.