LIFE IN A POT AND NOT

by Lisa

Some of the years’ old plants just didn’t stick it out this winter.  The lavender would have begun to green up, and the Autumn Joy from Ramona’s yard has always grown a few inches by now.  This spring, nothing from either of them. The everblooming roses look like bare brown twigs, which is a worry, but they may rally.

And the impossible-to-kill bamboo, well…I killed it.  Only three springs in its pot, and pthhht.

Surprisingly, the transplanted houseplants all pulled through their first winter here at the Charming Wreck.  Squirrel did her best to eat anything that remotely resembled grass, and the spider plant at the base of the dracaena has mysteriously disappeared, but I hid two more in the rosemary.  She does not like rosemary at all.  My plan worked.

The lemon tree from Santa (that now bears tiny green proto-lemons) and the carrion cactus (from Jean’s Venezuelan friend) seem to like sharing a pot.  They both need water water water, and I simply cannot let anything from Santa or Jean or Venezuela wither this summer.  High light, moist soil: check.

My fortieth birthday lilies froze to the bulb, but I have photos; they were beautiful.  Two birthdays’ ago blackberry lilies have come back, and the irises from the falling-down house in Kentucky seem to have multiplied despite being potted.

The irises that survived in this yard are important irises, first Papa’s then mine, then the house’s when I left them behind.  I’m back, and they waited for me.  So did the mint, with a vengeance and with promises of juleps and spring rolls in summer heat, and maybe the poppies which blaze at the same time the irises unfold.  The three have always had an affinity for one another, glorious fiery red tamed by sedate woodsy almost-purple, nice to look at while sipping minty-sweet bourbon.

The loss of the lilies and bamboo and maybe even the potted roses, too, makes me only a little sad.  I walk past Papa’s irises and my own long-ago lemon balm when I come home, whether anything blooms or not.  I know the shade of green unique to those leaves.  They are clones of what bloomed in the first back yard I ever knew.

Nothing blooms there now, unless a stray tulip missed the backhoe or the neighbors’ shovels.  A new house on those lots meant scraping the soil bare of green, to be laid with a perfect monoculture of sod.  I missed being there when the daffodils lived next to where the house used to be and the apple trees I saved from a dumpster fed the rabbits so well that they waddled instead of hopped away.  I don’t miss it, now that a “modern luxury villa” has filled the spot where my mimosa grew.

Nothing can replace a mimosa, and a mimosa can not survive for long in a pot.  I’ll find another one, soon, I’m sure of it.  It’s a weedy sort of tree, invasive where the cold doesn’t kill it, unwanted by real botanists but beloved by me.  It waits to leaf out until the irises bloom, leaving plenty of sunshine, which I think is just good fair play.

I like plants that fight for existence but play fair once they grab a good spot.

I won’t mourn what didn’t survive this very long, very icy winter.  I’ll save the pots, take advantage of the soil still in them, and see what takes hold this spring.

The best part?  Those very important irises won’t be left behind again.  I have a pot for that.

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