Lesson of the All-Year Flower

Flowers planted in pots die a long, slow death in the desert. Basil, violets, zinnias, even marigolds have crisped up in pots–even the ones that aren’t clay and don’t hold heat.

bloomsUntil last summer. I planted a Lisianthus–tough gray-green leaves, and big, multi-petaled blossoms. With no idea what the flowers looked like, I waited for the first buds with anticipation, the gardener’s companion.  The first blossoms opened in a pale parchment color. Nice. The next day, the same blossom was pink, the next dusty rose, then darker parchment, then pale, then it crinkled up.

Damn. That’s impressive. Each blossom does this. It starts out as one color, morphs through several delicate, antique shades, and wrinkles into a deep kraft-bag color.

Through June, July, and August, when everything else (except the lantana) dies of heat exhaustion, the Lisianthus stayed. Thrived. Then, in August, it began to die back. I trimmed the stems and noticed new growth. And here, in December, it is happily blooming again.

No one says that one color of the development is “better” than the other. They are all glorious. Every stage of life has its advantages and disadvantages, whether you are a flower or a person. You couldn’t pay me to go through high school again. I’m not as flexible physically as I was then, but my heart is flexible and will grow where planted–and I’m grateful.

The Lisianthus is tough. It has outlasted the roses of Spring, the cosmos of Summer and the chrysanthemums of Autumn. It is beautiful in every season because it is generous with its blossoms and makes the most of the space where it grows. Delicate and tough, generous and making the most of where you are. Good words for 2014, if you haven’t chosen one yet.

–Quinn McDonald had an odd word come to her in a dream. Nothing else is standing up for notice. She may yet embrace the odd word for 2014.

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10 thoughts on “Lesson of the All-Year Flower

  1. I think my word for 2014 is persevere. New dog which is a challenge of training, weather which continues to challenge us with damage to house or garden, and health problems. But to sit down occasionally, have a quiet cry (solo pity party) and then get up and get back to work.

  2. Wyoming has the opposite prob for plants. everything dies of the COLD!! funny, Quinn, yesterday I could not comment on your post from a couple of days ago. vagaries of the internet 🙂 as usual, your words of wisdom are an inspiration… happy holidays!

    • I moved my website and email a few days ago. The blog stayed put on WordPress, but the connections may have messed it up. or maybe it was Mercury crossing into Gatorade. I never know. I’m glad you are back, though!

  3. Oh come on, you mention an odd word at the very end, no hints, and aren’t even running a contest to see who can guess it?! But it’s a possible word of the year…you were cleaning things out recently…ok, my guess is: defenestration!

    • Well, it’s that odd. I didn’t want to give it out because people are still listing their words, and I didn’t want to influence them. I’m also struggling with a start-up meaning–I don’t have to understand the word, that’s what 2014 is for, but I have to have an inkling. Which right now, I don’t. But I will do a post on it.

  4. Love this. For me it is a crown of thorns I’ve had for almost 7 years–and the parsley aralia you gave me, what, 12 yrs. ago? Both do rounds of shedding and pining, and the crown-of-thorns has only minor flowers, the aralia none, but when they each sprout new growth it is a joy to see. I say to them “thanks for LEAVING,” a little gardening joke of mine, because “leafing out” sounds like a bad pun. Cheers to you for your lovely essay xox

  5. I would love to see this plant! Where did you buy it? It’s so difficult to have flowering plants here that thrive so I would love to give it a try. I just looked for a Christmas cactus today, thinking that might give me some blooms, but didn’t find one.

    • I bought it at a local nursery. It wasn’t blooming at the time, but it looked sturdy. It grows to about 18 -24 inches. It needs a lot of water, but I’m amazed that it lasted. It may have re-seeded itself, although if you look it up it says it’s a fussy plant and hard to raise from seed. Not this one!

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