Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can You Love a Man You've Never Actually Met?

I just got a note from Barry, from Sunshine Farm & Gardens. Please don't tell my husband, but, I love Barry. I bought violets from him over the internet when I first moved to Honeoye Falls, and they are spreading like crazy. He's one of the few people who write to me monthly; that is to say, who sends me a monthly newsletter that I don't automatically delete. In fact, even though I haven't bought anything from Barry in 8 years, I love to read his newsletter. Barry is passionate, as you might well expect, about flowers. It seems unlikely that Barry will ever know how much I enjoy his musings, and it seems unlikely that I'll ever meet him, even though he always kindly includes his location using longitude and latitude coordinates. I wonder if people geocache Barry?

I will quote Barry now, just because he used the word "taxonomist" in a sentence. My husband, who is an expert at including large words whose definition I do not know in sentences, first dazzled me with the word "taxonomy" shortly after we were first married.

Saruma henryi

Seems like the taxonomists that were assigned to name a rare plant discovery from China were either bored, suffered a lack of imagination, were just plain lazy or had a brilliant sense of humor. Whatever the case may be and "A rose by any other yada yada yada", what we have here is a superb garden plant. I've enjoyed Saruma henryi in my garden for about 12 years now and season after season, it never fails to impress all who behold it.

I first saw Saruma henryi growing in Cole Burrell's ice cold Minnesota zone 4 garden in 1995. I knew if a plant could survive up there, it could survive just about anywhere. Cole, generous chap that he is, was kind enough to send me some seeds and I've been growing the plant ever since, sharing it with many friends and customers.

Saruma henryi was discovered on a Chinese plant collection expedition in the early part of the 1900's by plant explorer Augustine Henry and named in his honor. Who knows why it took so long to really get itself into cultivation?

Now....back to the taxonomists. Saruma is an anagram of the word Asarum and is a monotypic genus in the Aristolochiaceae family. The Aristolochiaceae family is home to the genus Asarum, the deciduous "Wild Gingers" and Hexastylis, the evergreen "Wild Gingers". Also, the genus Aristolochia, better known as the "Dutchman's Pipe". Our East Coast native, Aristolochia durior, can climb a hundred feet into the top of a tree and makes a really neat spiral around the branches. The flowers resemble little pipes. Check out a picture at - http://farm1.static.flickr.com/193/502038078_48d4084174.jpg?v=0

Now I ask you, how can you resist reading Barry's pearls of wisdom? Don't you just want to look him up and buy flowers from him?

It occurs to me that if I'm going to write about flower companies, I should 'fess up and tell you the other two that I love very much. First, there's The Violet Barn, located in Naples, NY. I've never actually been there, but they used to have a special where you could have 12 different types of violets sent to someone. My Mom sent a batch to me, which explains the vast collection of violet pots that I own. The Violet Barn specializes in unusual show-quality African Violets and Gesneriads, Rare and Collectible Houseplants. I managed to kill mine all off over the years, so I suppose that's what makes them rare and collectible. Now that I've looked at their website, I'm starting to think maybe a visit is due... both Mom and I have violets, but they're all looking pretty scraggly. Maybe they need some new friends.

My last favorite flower place is Dutch Gardens. You know you've gone overboard - absolutely past the limit - when your internet flower bulb vendor sends you a Christmas present. That's right, I bought so many flower bulbs from Dutch Gardens that one year they sent me a beautiful set of four Dutch hand-painted ceramic Christmas tree ornaments. It was memorable because my brother brought the package inside, with a look on his face that shouted "YOU CRAZED OBSESSIVE FLOWER BULB WOMAN! Why would you buy flower bulbs in the winter time?" Really, after that, I cut back quite a bit.

For what it's worth, I bought flower bulbs from everybody and anybody for a while. I settled on Dutch Gardens because I loved their catalog, which was a work of art, and they sent the biggest, freshest, nicest bulbs.

I finally gave up on buying bulbs the year after my Christmas ornaments arrived. I had this dog whose name was Sammy. Sammy really liked to dig. She'd dig big holes in the backyard, and my other dog, Snickers, would sit in the hole, happy as a clam. Anyway, I had bought - ok, I'll admit it - several hundred bulbs and was planting them in an area in the backyard. So I put them all down, and then I put a nice layer of stuff on top, headed back into the house, and I turned around, and there's Sammy, eating my flower bulbs. And not just one. Well, that just wouldn't do. So I got a big bucket, filled it with some water, and then emptied the refrigerator and cupboards of everything that might taste offensively hot to Sammy. I soaked all the bulbs, and then planted them again. I took a break and when I came back out, there's Sammy, licking the flower bulbs like she'd never tasted anything better. I took this as a sign, and have managed not to buy bulbs since then. But still, I really liked those Dutch Gardens bulbs.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Barbie. You completely rock. Your blog is fabulous. I knew it would be.

    I think you are one of those girls who needs to figure things out for themselves. Seems I told you about spinning decades ago and, until it became your own idea, it wasn't worth much. And then when it did become your own idea - look out, wild woman!!

    And blogging too. It seems I begged you to come when I was blogging before, and now suddenly, I can't manage it and you fly free ...

    I love how we come around to the same place.