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Friday, May 14, 2010

Shades of PInk

Ants inexhaustibly march up and down the stems of peonies as they gather the sticky, gooey nectar covering the flower buds.  The plump pink spheres are ready to open. In fact a peony enjoying earlier morning sun has already begun to bloom, its perfect pale pink blossoms displaying layer after layer of tissue paper-like petals, carefully formed so as to hold gallons of water from a late spring rain. Anyone who has grown peonies know that the delicate flowers are like sponges when it rains. Each bloom holds so much water that the plant is soon weighed down until they all lie flat on the ground unless their stems have been supported by a cage or, more often stakes and strings.
Less susceptible to the weight of rain are the fritillarias. The bells of a fritillaria bloom hang down hiding their colors. Perhaps the plant is ashamed of the stench that emanates from it each afternoon, often convincing me that meat has made its way into the compost pile and is now rotting into the otherwise sweet-smelling breeze.
I bought the fritillaria bulbs because of the picture showing large bright orange blooms but between the time I saw the picture until the time that the bulbs grew in my garden, something happened.  I probably wrote down the wrong number from the catalogue or an employee packed the wrong bulb into my box or - hopefully not- the company deliberately gave me the drab species that I see and smell each year situated at one entrance of my garden. 
There is very little color visible on each flower of the long-stemmed plant. Of course the deer won't eat it, smelling as it does. In fact, there is little to attract anyone to this fritillaria.  But I still like it and wouldn't want the garden to lose it. The fritillaria forces me to stop if I want to enjoy its beauty. I must stop and turn each tiny bell up so that I may see what is usually hidden from us humans. Underneath, visible to the moths that are attracted to its rotting smell, hides the beauty of this fritillaria. Pinks and greens await the persistent garden tourist who takes the time to turn up one of the gray bells. First, light green in the form of a radiation warning makes up the center each bell. This is then encircled by a dark green band which, in turn is surrounded by three chartreuse semi-circles edged in dark pink fading toward the edges. There is no lack of beauty here.
So, I will put up with the smell, and will remember to pause as I pass. I will upturn a handful of bells and enjoy the colors while I try not to inhale.

1 comment:

Green Thumbelina said...

I agree with you keeping it. What a unique look, even if you have to take the time to enjoy it. I wish you knew exactly what it was, I think I would enjoy this in my garden, maybe strategicly place it near plants that get eaten often. Thank you for sharing this!