I see little point in pinks that bloom at three or four inches, like sweet williams shorn of their clusters, and no point at all in a pink that lacks scent.
I have some, a luscious rose with intense dark centers, that needless to say are blooming their heads off. They know I don't like them and therefore are flourishing.
The tiny seedlings I mentioned a while back that looked like some sort of violet to me, but which my learned friend said might well be an African convolvulus (which is what my label said they should be), have flowered and are, indeed, violas. My hand is steady but several foxgloves have turned up among the violas, the seed having washed over from another row in the seed flat.
Foxgloves have proved hard for me to establish from nursery plants. As they grow easily from seed, and as I now have a number of vigorous young seedlings that should bloom next spring, I hope to have them settle in permanently. Most foxgloves are biennial, but after flowering they shed seeds about and usually they go on for years from self-sown seed.
I have planted eight kinds, some of them uncommon, and therefore have managed to get all the labels in disarray.
A happy note -- like many gardeners I am uneasy at pulling up any weed I don't know and as a result I have one of the nation's outstanding collections of them. But this spring, among a planting of poppies, I noticed several tiny plants that I thought did not look quite like the Weeds I Have Grown so I left them, though they were weedy looking, with leaves suggesting something between a tomato and a California poppy. Well, flowers have now appeared, a poppy of even greater silkiness than usual, about the size of a half-dollar, colored rich bronze.
My theory when planting seeds is that when they flower they will of course be recognizable. How often the gardener gives endless thought to some plant or seed or bulb and then, maybe a year or two later, finally orders it. He does not need a label because, after all, so much thought went into selecting it.
Then (sometimes) the seed sprouts and grows and, incredible as it seems, the gardener no longer has any idea at all what the thing is. At the time I ordered the poppy seeds I knew the distinguishing features of leaf and flower among the different kinds. The one with funny leaves I knew perfectly well a couple of years ago. But now all the poppies have melted together, so to speak, and I no longer know why I wanted it or which one it is.
It's a question of paying attention, probably. When I had 500-odd varieties of iris, I knew each one when it bloomed, knew the name, the breeder, the year of introduction and in many cases the parentage. But now, if I saw those same irises, I would not know most of them at all, and this is because I have not been among them for years.
At the time I planted daylilies, I thought long and hard before buying them. Just this week I noticed 'Theresa Hall' in bloom. An old one I haven't paid much attention to, but when it bloomed I remembered instantly a great many things connected with it and with my growing it for many years.
With packets of seed, however, it is different. The gardener should label every planting of seed, because he will promptly forget everything in the months between acquiring the seed and the development of a nice plant.
One thing I like about the holy thistle or milk thistle is that the showy white veins and the prickles of its leaf make it unmistakable even as a tiny seedling plant. That is good, as I am forever sticking a few of its seeds here and there. When they come up I rarely remember planting them.
And a thing I like about crinums is that they are so impressive in growth, the leaves like gigantic amaryllis leaves, that it is almost impossible to forget them. I only have seven or eight so I never forget which is which or exactly where it is in the garden. Few plants, by the way, so fully gratify the gardener's desire to plant something really substantial. The bulbs (I have read) may weigh as much as 25 pounds each, and even the ones I grow have bulbs bigger than most large oranges. And when they bloom you know it, you don't have to go poking about to see if they are.
One of our lovely wild American irises, Iris cristata, grows well for everybody who has a bit of shade and a bit of leaf mold. But if an oak leaf falls on top of this iris, you never know it's in bloom.
Is it permissible to say there should be more objectivity in television weather reports? Some happy loon is forever saying that the day will be glorious, slightly overcast and the temperature no higher than 73. Well, that may be glorious for him, but a great annoyance to me. I want it 88 degrees, not a cloud in the sky and muggy as a steam bath. I want tomato and crinum weather, I want water lily weather. The days I love are the ones the weather reporters complain of. One of them, to do justice to their maligned tribe, did say something profound, that it would be wonderful and rare if we ever had a year in which the weather was normal for the date.