Tuesday, February 03, 2004


I've always been a bit of a snob about annuals. Their sameness, an appeal to many who like the same color to remain constant in a garden, is off-putting to me. I want variety, and wonder if at times I have a bit of an Eastern idea stuck inside when it comes to the garden.

Chinese gardeners often emphasis only one or two blooming things, recognizing these plants' complexity and color, seeing in their preparing to bloom, opening up, and then falling away as metaphors for life's beginning, middle and end.

There is something to be said for the illusiveness of a wonderful garden, the mystery in plants that only look a certain way for a short season, or for only that day. A well acted play or a beautifully sung opera lingers in the mind long after the curtain falls, yet its very temporaryness enhances the experience. We live in a cookie-cutter world where nothing is new, or special, or unrepeatable. We need more variety in life. Down with sameness.

But being in Florida last week reminded me of the cheerfulness of annual bedding plants, and how flowers of any kind have a way to draw the mind away from the dreary details of life. So maybe I have a bit of a butterfly, bee or bird in me, looking for the flower.

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