Monday, March 9, 2009

Farkleberry Fetish

Ever since I first heard of the farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) back at A&M, I've wanted one. I'll admit it: it's about the name, pure and simple. It's so whimsical and ridiculous. The fruits are apparently nasty to the point of inedibility, the flowers are practically nanoscopic, and it wants to live in something like 5.4 pH. So. Not a practical choice. But then, only a very silly person would expect practicality from a plant called "farkleberry."

And it does have some redeeming qualities. The wildlife, having a less refined palatte, like the fruit. And the flowers, though tiny, appear in delicate little sprays of urn-shaped buds that are somewhat fetching up close. And while the fruit is unappetizing, it's not poisonous--you can eat it, if, say, you live in a time of economic meltdown and you have nothing in your garden but rotten turnips and farkleberries.

In any case, I'm doing what azalea fanciers in the area do: I dug a hole much deeper than the pot, and mixed sphagnum moss into the soil at a 1:1 ratio. Here's hoping.

Anyway, here's my little farkleberry, looking a bit scruffy from his trip through the mail.

Baby farkleberry

The Winter is Over and Done
So, 8 days ago, I wrote a post called "Winter Garden." Now it's spring. What can I say? Things move fast in March.

For example, the oak-leaf hydrangea, still sporting increasingly limp-looking winter foliage, is also budding all over with silvery new leaves.

New hydrangea leaves

Similarly, last year's revenant pomegranates still hang on the tree, even as new olive-green leaves appear. (What does one do with pomegranates, anyway? Other than sprinkle their seeds on top of fancy chiles rellenos? How do you know when they're ripe? How can you tell when they've gone off? There's something unnerving about pomegranates. Do you eat the skin? How do you extract the flesh? And thus ours hang on the tree, slowly mummifying.)

An undead pomegranate

And the roses are beginning to flower--intermittently for the moment, but with increasing frequency, sort of like popcorn slowly beginnging to pop.

Naturally, it's the chinas that go first. Wonderful roses, chinas. They frequently have a full, old-fashioned look with a breezy, loose, no-fuss attitude to them. And they bloom all the time, require no pruning, and once established need almost no extra water.

Here is a slightly over-blown blossom of pale lemony-creamy-white Ducher, a gung-ho yet delicate flower that I never appreciated until I grew one myself.

'Ducher' in bloom

All five of our 'Mutabilis,' that much-loved and eminently useful china, are in bloom. This flower is in the late apricot stage of bloom.

'Mutabilis' bloom

And our 'Cramoisi Superieurs' seem to have finally settled in, after a slow start. The one in the rose bed, in particular, has put on some growth and is sporting this lovely thing.

'Cramoisi Superieur' blossom

Here's the funny thing about Cramoisi: I absolutely cannot capture that shade of red, either with my camera, or with the aid of Photoshop. It always comes out too pink, no matter how I diddle with the greens, blues, and reds.

Uf! Spring is Hard Work

All was not rose blossoms and light, however. We decided it was time to clean out the pond. Matt got started while I was still gathering the tools, and I knew the moment he began even though I was on the other side of the yard because the Stench was omnipresent. There was a thick layer of black, oozying, fibrous exceedingly stinky muck at the bottom of the pond. We transferred this to the compost bin, potted up the waterlilies, which had been growing straight in the muck, and refilled the water. Which promptly drained out of the other giant crack in the liner. So put a new pond liner on the list of Things to Buy. The old one, really, is too small for the yard, so it's a good excuse to upsize to something (moderately) more appropriate.

Things We Learned about Water Gardening:
- Really do plant your water lilies in clay or kitty litter. Even if you get dirt to stay in the pot and not float away, the water lilies unearth themselves and go drifting all over the place.
- Waterlilies have many and strange parts. I'm still not sure if I saved the right bits. There were (1) things like tiny clusters of bananas, (2) long knobbly tubers, and (3) jointed stems with clusters of roots coming out of them. I planted some of each. We'll see what happens.

As you may have inferred, we did no research whatsoever before starting this project, and once we realized that we were facing a knowledge deficit, we were already plastered in muck and couldn't come inside to google. So item three on the list of things we learned would be
- Do your research before getting covered in black, slimy detritus.

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