Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gloriosas Galore

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A blustery evening here at Vermont Flowerless Farm. It's 25 degrees but the wind must be at about 20 knots and the snow continues to move in sheets, kind of parallel to the earth. I was just getting Karl the wonder dog convinced that it was time for his after dinner walk and a car came down the road and backed into the drive. It was Gail returning from Wednesday night Community Dinner downtown at the Marshfield Community Center.

This is an almost-never-interrupted Wednesday night event with Lawrence Black the chief cook and bottle washer. Lawrence makes a red sauce that somehow always becomes the center of the meal accompanied by whatever people bring. Not only is Lawrence the cook but he is one of the local justices of the peace, local storyteller, and the tallest man in Marshfield or Plainfield. He'll drive a car if you make him but he prefers a vintage "English" bicycle, walking or hitch hiking. Lawrence is a story all by himself.

Anyhoo-o-o-o, Gail arrived when Karl and I were exiting the back door. She didn't need any encouragement to get in the house and Karl followed suit, totally unconvinced that there was any possible smell that couldn't wait until tomorrow. This is March and this is the month of the year when storms arrive like this with giant snow flakes and snow that scoots across the frozen ice and hard pack. It's also the time when maple sugaring is supposed to be in full production but that just isn't the case this year.

I've had this thing in my mind for a while now about how nice these pictures of common old gloriosa daisies are. They almost have some Georgia O'Keefe personality to them although my artistic ability hardly pushes a decimal on the artistic interest meter so I really shouldn't say that. What should be said is these are a plant with potential and they do best when seeded-in where they will live versus being purchased as potted plants. That concept is a hard-sell to gardeners who stop for a visit and see swathes of colors which differ from year to year. Some years it's shasta daisies, some years gloriosas, some years echinacheas or combinations of all. Fact is, however, that gloriosa daisies have a shallow root system and a woody stem structure that easily succumbs to spring moisture or repeated freeze-thaw cycles or adjacent pools of water. That's why it's best to seed them in and get the root structure caught tightly to the soil that is going to support them.

Years ago I bought a packet of Burpee gloriosa seed named 'Mahogany' and these pictures represent some of the offspring. My advice is that when fall approaches and the seed heads have dried, pull them off one at a time and work them back and forth between your fingers, freeing the abundant seeds from the head. This takes a few minutes because even when completely dry, they hang tight. Chances are the critters of the earth will eat a majority of the seeds before spring but of the millions that probably dropped, you'll have ample new seedlings. After a couple-three years, you'll have a proud display. In the meantime, think of Georgia O'Keefe and boisterous flower portraits challenging spring to hurry.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the wind builds stronger, forcing an occasional puff of back draft from the woodstove's efforts to keep us toasty.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
the "other" blog and....

Vermont Flower Farm
our website from which we try to sell a few flowers to those who
cannot come visit


Anonymous said...

what an interesting bunch of flowers

kjohnson said...

I remember march in Vermont (used to work in White River Junction). It's a month of mud and slush and dreams of warmer days. Keep the pics coming . They are very hopeful.