30 July 2010

Why we love plants, part the 'leventy-'leventh


It is no secret that those of us who love plants understand one another quite well. While those who LIKE plants might think we're a bit much when we get excited over a perfect wildflower or a new plant catalogue, those of us who are total plant addicts understand perfectly why someone else would geek out over a new echinacea or a different heuchera or a heritage variety of leaf lettuce or seventy different types of tomatoes. Maybe not everyone loves echinacea 'Green Envy' as much as I do, but we plant people all have plants that make us extraordinarily happy.

I find myself firmly straddling all worlds when it comes to garden plants AND wild plants. New cultivars of garden plants often make me rapturous with excitement and plant envy. Old favourites make me joyful, even those that exasperate me because I can't get them to grow properly for me (yellow hollyhocks, anyone?)

I don't need to bring home every plant I see, however. My practical gene kicks in from time to time, and while I love Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' (photo, above), I know it will behave more likely than not as an annual and not return. So I'll enjoy it in other gardens or at nurseries, or in photos, and that's just fine.

Sometimes we're too busy or too preoccupied or we're looking up in trees or out at the water and we don't always notice the wonders going on under our feet. Or we don't recognize what we're looking at. I wonder how many people have walked by Indian Pipe (Monotropa species) and not noticed their ghostly heads rising up out of the ground. Probably plenty of us, while others, like me, carefully bend over and put our cameras down close so we can catch a little of the magic of a chlorophyll-less plant. I never get tired of seeing these mysterious, bizarre plants.

Then there's the sheer, almost unutterable joy of seeing a rare, endangered, and exquisitely beautiful plant growing, even thriving, in its natural habitat. You won't see Sabatia kennedyana in my garden, or in any garden centre. In fact, most of you will never see this remarkable little wildflower, ever. But my fellow plant addicts understand perfectly, even without seeing it, why I was so excited--and even a little bit teary--to see my very first Plymouth gentian with my own eyes. Not just in photos. Not just in the poster of coastal plains flora that is on my office wall. But actually living and breathing in front of me. I couldn't get a photo exactly in front of it because I didn't want to get any closer, lose my balance, and fall over in the water, or get too close to the flower. So I worshiped from a respectable distance, and trusted my camera to do its best to catch it for me.

Maybe if everyone shared that sort of joy that I feel in seeing a single rare flower, our world wouldn't be in the mess it's in. Seeing a plant like this rare beauty gives me hope. It really does.

16 comments:

  1. I know what you mean. I get giddy about flowers, and can talk on and on about our vegetable garden. I'm sure other people think I'm dorky. But so what.

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  2. You have summed up my feeling perfectly!! Wonderful post with stunning pics, what more could a garden fanatic want? (other than a plant that isn't hardy in ones zone...)

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  3. I so enjoy straddling the world beside you, jodi. Up, down, all around ... life is beautiful!

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  4. I just got a lump in my throat. Such a gorgeous post. You write so, so well. Did I mention that lately?

    Yes, Jodi, it would be a totally different world if we all saw this rare wildflower clearly, saw its preciousness, its beauty, its grace. These are miracles we're talking about -- and yet so many of us walk on by and sit down in front of our t.v.s to absorb yet again the message that the real miracle would be wearing the newest fashion at the trendiest club, or owning the world's fattest diamond or fastest sportscar, or having a huge, energy-sucking house. Blech!

    I am so glad to belong to this tribe.

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  5. Jodi, I do agree and it is one of the reasons I love blogs. To read about wild plants that for me are exotics gives me a thrill. To have the plants growing in my garden is even better. Seeing rare or different plants in the wild is thrilling too, I love seeing our native purple orchid in the hedgerows.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

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  6. Wow, I have only seen Indian Pipe one time and it wasn't in my garden. It is like a ghost that appears ever so rarely.

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  7. Is that top picture the Green Envy? I am liking that flower, all day long. I wonder if it will grow in the UK?

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  8. Jodi, I absolutely understand your excitement! How fantastic for you!! Most everyone I know thinks I'm off the deep end when it comes to my gardening, flowers and wildlife...but that's ok. I could have worse addictions!

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  9. I'd like to shrink down to the size of a bee and see the flowers from that perspective. I bet they look even more beautiful. I've just broke the bank by being seduced by a bulb catalog so I can relate. I've got some digging to do this fall!

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  10. Wow! Nice find! I geek out over plant stuff all the time too. My friends think I'm a little odd, but they are the first to ohhh and awww over something I've created!

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  11. What a wonderful post. You've summed it up well and your photos are stunning. I've never heard of that Indian Pipe, how fascinating!

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  12. Your love for plants and gardening is why I subscribe to your blog. And I would love to know more about the Indian Pipe, hint hint!

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  13. Hey all. I've been away for a few days with somewhat limited internet access or time to be on computer. Home and catching up now. Thanks all for your lovely comments. Fellow plant people always understand our excitement.

    IG, if you can grow coneflowers, you should have no problem with Green Envy. It is in its 4th summer in my garden and the plants are doing very well; enough so that I plan to split them both and spread them out a bit more.

    Chookie, I will write more about Indian Pipe! It's a cool plant, and I have a list of posts to write, but gotta finish collecting the photos for my book and also doing a couple of major articles. Plus work in the gardnen. Amazing what a few days away will do.

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  14. We are a strange bunch, but what can we do? We all were born with gardening genes. I for one I’m glad to be part of this exclusive group.

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  15. Hey Jodi, because you write so well you put all my feelings in there, perfectly. To follow up, as a plant addict i envy all your finds because this is the first time i see them too. Your vegetation is totally different from ours, so blogging completes the pictures in my head. I know Echinacea from literatures, but seeing that one is mesmerizing. The chlorophyll-less, actually not only less but "no chlorophyll plants" are real magic! I did not know there are plants like that,i thought only the etiolated ones are white but these are real. How awesome. Thanks for enriching my knowledge.

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  16. Thanks, Jodi, for showing us plants that most of us will probably never see. I'd never heard of the Indian Pipe,or that kind of gentian, as far as that goes. I love the picture in my mind of you being careful not to fall in the water or disturb the plant.

    I have some 'Prairie Sun' and a couple similar rudbeckias I bought as annuals last year that came back, both in the ground and in one of my wash tubs. I wonder if they'll come back next year. I am zone 5b.

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