Growth Takes Time—At Least for Me

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I used to tell people jokingly that our house just happened to be in my garden. This is no longer a laughing matter though as I enter into that next phase of deciding what to do with my life and my belongings—even the green ones.
Yes, divorce takes time. I see that now. It’s not like I will wake up tomorrow and the instant nearly overnight beauty of the mature Japanese maple and some choice tulips will be what my life will look like. I think my current new growth will take some time.
As I grow I will observe, and not judge. Like a gardener tending to a new plant, I will decide what kind of growing conditions are needed and I will watch and wait. If I need to be moved somewhere else to flourish, I will be moved.
Recently, as I’ve been walking around Portland I’ve been thinking about the similarities and differences I have with plants, and the activity has been more informative than I’d imagined it would be and so much more positive than several of the alternatives…

The Laburnum tree that I grew from seed didn’t take long at all before it started to put on its show.

I won’t grow at that rate though and I am alright with that.

For those who know me you’re bound to agree that I can be as tacky and as flashy as the hot pink Azaleas people are always trying to get rid of in the FREE section of Craigslist—at least they do this in the Portland area.

I am part Italian after all and I do love to be a bit over the top at times.

Then there is a lot about me that needs to be looked at closely to be examined and I have to examine it regularly myself. Sadly this does make me a bit of a ruminator, but just so long as my illness stays in remission and I can take that ruminating behavior to the streets, it’s not at all the issue it can become when I am required to be physically inactive due to my health problems.
I know this now and it is the teeny bit of green I’m currently proud to wear. (At least here I have seen growth—lots of it!)

There are also those dainty girl moments which I’ve been having far more of recently. They don’t need to be discussed here necessarily, but let’s just say that my friend pampered me and she took me to have a mani/pedi in California and it was great fun for a change. I had no idea either that an eyebrow waxing could be as exciting as pruning a shrub but there you go. I learned something completely new!

Overall I do feel like the special plant, unusual, hard-to-find, maybe a bit damaged and bruised on the sale rack right now. I am that item most gardeners will pass up because I cost too much, or look a bit odd and my novelty may not come in the correct color for their garden. Ok, I might even need a bit of extra care and attention.

Looking at my illness this way has been a relief. Honestly it has been because I think all of what I just wrote is very true for many of us living with chronic illness.

Sometimes I burst open at the seams a bit and explode like my Clematis did while I was in California. That’s ok too I think, and maybe it makes me more common, and less likely to be as delicate as I sometimes think that I am.

Things I will never go without though as I change and grow will be my tall boots and my odd choice of hot pink luggage with polka dots. Life is too short to be dull and colorless.

This is at my core. These items will remain at my center. They are part of what identify me as who I am.

My humor is also at the center of who I am and remembering why I’m called Annie, and how much I love hearing it with an Irish brogue. This too is part of where I come from and I am proud to have known some very amazing Irish priests.

Lastly, to help me as I grow I will not miss out on my deepest and darkest of treats. There are many foods which I love, but my love of pommes frites with truffle oil, parmesan cheese, and squid ink aioli reaches such depths that I truly would be lost without them.
So yes, it’s an in between phase for me. I am growing but it is slow and as I do so I am noting what characteristics define me and where I am best suited in the design of things. In all seriousness, thinking like this has been far more beneficial than any book or online posting I’ve read about the divorce process. I guess I really do just see things through nature and plants, and yes, I really do still believe that the house just happens to be in my garden.
I just don’t know yet if I can grow here anymore.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Portland, Oregon)

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Ever since I can remember I’ve been visiting what my family always referred to as The Rhododendron Garden, though nowadays, I’ve finally started calling it by a name others actually recognize: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
The garden was started back in 1950, when my dad was a boy, and not long after my Grandfather Salvatore, aka Sam, had returned home from World War II. Situated at the southeastern edge of Portland, it sits right in the middle of my Portland universe.
For about a decade or so I didn’t visit the garden at all. Instead I was spending more time with friends, and less and less with family, and now that I have been gardening for about 10 years, I love to visit there more.
With over 2,500 Rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants, the setting is idyllic.
The garden is great if you need planting ideas.
Fringe Cup. Tellima grandiflora.
Wood Anemone. Anemone nemorosa ‘Flore Pleno’.
It is also a great place for some color after all the grey rain.

Not long ago this retaining wall with ferns was added. I have enjoyed watching it grow and change but part of me really wants them to add a stumpery just so I can say that we have one here in Portland. (I know they are all over the place in the woods, but to have an official one would seriously crack me up.)

I have one of these in our garden but it’s barely alive. Ours has been broken, stepped on, and tripped over, and it’s alive, but it doesn’t look this nice.
Spider Azalea. Rhododendron stenopetalum Linearifolium.

To see a Rhododendron tree in bloom in the middle of the woods is a sight to behold.

Nearby, the carpet of primroses was breathtaking and it was great to see an art class painting en plein air. I want to draw again so badly but I simply have too much to do. Maybe that will be added to my long list of things.

Primula pulverulenta.
Then there are those azaleas!
There are a lot of reds in the Crystal Springs garden, and I know that not everyone loves red, but I am fond of the color.
Rhododendron ibex.
These colors work too.
There was no tag on this one, but I found the lighter green foliage rather interesting with the pale violet blooms. It must be an early bloomer since it’s already beginning to fade.
Here is a Cercis in bloom with an accompaniment of Rhododendron.
Have you ever seen a purple like this reaching for the sky? Neither have I.
I added these two reds because I grew up with them. The big bloom in the middle is the hybrid Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montagu’ and the smaller bloom in the back is most likely a Hino-Crimson azalea. The only other classic crimson combinations would be a Rhododendron ‘Vulcan’ and a Wards Ruby azalea. I only know these because my mom stuffed her acre sized garden with them and I loved red so I was kind of all about those blooms each spring.
(As a kid, I would sit on my thick fuzzy red blanket in an ocean of lawn at my parents’ house for hours and hours at a time. My mom didn’t need to put me in a playpen since I wouldn’t touch the grass. I know. I was a weird kid.)
Here is another bank of azalea blooms.
This is my favorite yellow Rhododendron.

Rhododendron lutescens.
Beside the lake, after you cross the bridge to the island, you’ll see a weeping cherry tree.
On the return trip back, this is the same bridge. Even when packed with folks during the springtime, it is enchanting.
The other bridge is back at the entrance. This is the Moon Bridge as seen from above. It was also at the beginning of this post, but from below.

Before I go though, I should mention the birds. There are a lot of birds, but most of all, there are water birds because the garden is both surrounded by, and is full of, water.

Pair of Mallard ducks sleeping in a tree.
Geese and a gosling.

The garden sits across the street from Reed College—a fine institution of higher learning. Though I never attended the school as a student, I did spend a lot of time on the campus with two of my best friends during their years as undergraduates. That was a long time ago though.

Due to the busy season at the garden, and because the small lot was reserved for a film crew, I had to park in the school’s parking lot. So, on my way back to the car, I noticed these gorgeous Ceanothuses in bloom and the short walk was worth it!

Back at home I worked on my pile of plants this afternoon. Funny I hadn’t noticed that a Candelabra Primrose was beginning to bloom, but I sure noticed it today! How rewarding to see this after having cared for it for a year or two. It is another primrose I’ve grown from seed and I cannot wait for it to give me more babies.

Primula pulverulenta.
My native Rhododendron occidentale has not yet burst open, but I am watching it closely. This is one of those plants that your nose may notice much sooner than your eyes.

Lastly, if you made it this far, the American Rhododendron Society will be in Vancouver, Washington this week for their convention. So if you have the time, you should check it out:
American Rhododendron Society Presents The World in Your Garden May 11-15, 2011
Heathman Lodge, Vancouver, WA

Shore Acres State Park and the Darlingtonia State Natural Site

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The last night of my trip was spent at another yurt, but this time it was located in Sunset Beach State Park just outside of Coos Bay, Oregon. This is an amazing part of the state just south of our huge sand dunes. I didn’t have the time to visit them at length during this trip, but driving past them brought back memories from when I was a child. I’d also forgotten that once again, it is another unique environment with more unique plants so I will certainly return again soon.
In a way, I was kind of sad my adventure was over. I’ve been chronically ill for ten years and it was a relief to get out and travel at my own pace with all of the necessary comforts and without any kind of static from upsetting or worrying others. Illness triggers things in all of us in different ways and it is often the elephant in the room. Chronically ill people don’t like to be alone too much though, and we really hate to be told that we should hang out with other people like us so that we can find others who understand. Isolating all of us together can just hurt more. Anyone can understand what we are going through—if they want to do so. Many do not want to consider the time when they too will be faced with a health difficulty, but it will happen, and when it does, it will help a lot to have a friend who can help.
The trip has led me to make three resolutions for the upcoming summer months concerning how to keep healthy so that I can live in my garden and hunt plants from time to time in the woods or wherever:
  1. Ask for help when I need help and no more new projects so that I can finish whatever I’ve already started. I usually stop because I get to the point where I need help and then I won’t ask.
  2. Simplify my life and my home.
  3. Remember to have fun and to enjoy all of my friends while sticking to the activities that have always been essential to me. Even if my own life has changed, none of my friends will be upset for me so long as I remain who I’ve always been. We all return to comfort foods, and we all know who our comfort friends are, right?


Before I left for the day’s adventures I found these little beauties beside the car. The one on the left is another twinberry and the one on the right is native salal.

Twinberry bloom.
That last day was much drier than the one before but it was still cool and windy. I jumped into the car and headed out to see the views that I’d remembered as having been so beautiful.
I was so pleased that I’d chosen to go and as my eyes took all of this in for about an hour or so, my body was filled with a kind of pleasure that only the experience of art can replicate but it is always stunted by the surroundings of a museum and the disruptions of others’ gazes. Nothing interfered with my experience that last day and I took it all in for as long as I was able to do so.
My love of Romanticism is showing through, as this most obviously is a manifestation of my complete understanding and acceptance of the Sublime. I think that my trip to see what has always inspired me, was a complete success since I feel recharged and so much more calm now. I hope to return to this idea more and more in the future when it comes to discussing garden and landscape design and if I am well enough, I would like to really dig in to some great critical theory as applied to gardens.
Near the end of the road are the remains of an old estate built by a lumberman who’d made a fortune in the timber industry. Today it is Shore Acres State Park.

The home that once stood on the site burned down years ago but the estate garden remains and that is what attracts visitors to the park. Where the home once stood, there is now an information building and shelter that can be used as a shelter for whale watching during rough weather.

Can you imagine having a patio like this one beside the ocean? Those urns are amazing and the crashing waves incredible! It must have been a lovely home. I wish I had a patio with a view like!
Shore Acres Gardens
Don’t you just love the Giant Dracaena?
Hebe bloom.
Well-clipped Azalea x’Hino-Crimson’.
Garden Pavilion for weddings and concerts.
Azalea with the original gardener’s quarters in the background.
Entrance to the Asian garden and pond.
Close up of Berberis darwinii.
Garden gateway to cliff overlook and private beach below.
View looking back toward the entrance from the garden gateway to the ocean.
Some kind of hardy Heliotrope?
View looking back toward the entrance from the Asian garden.
Species Rhododendron. Not sure which.
Sorry for the blurry photo but I loved that this planter was so simply planted with only a Lamium.
This is a very interesting and simple water feature.
The much loved Monkey-puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana).
Returning to the entrance.
Guest services and gift shop building that was added later. Its architecture really adds to the experience.
I seriously applaud all of the work that has gone into keeping the park open to the public. It is a treasure and I recommend that everyone visit it if they happen to visit the area.
Darlingtonia State Natural Site
Just north of the coastal town of Florence, Oregon sits a tiny little park. To get there from Coos Bay it takes about an hour and a half by car. Little did I know that again, my day would brighten even more with the kind of experience that you don’t get often when you are delighted by a sight and a child-like happiness lingering in your heart’s passageways just bursts out shocking you to discover you’re still able to feel that way. It is good to be reminded of that from time to time.
Here is more information about the Darlingtonia Wayside with information about how to get there.

The short walk to the bog was full of the typical forest imagery yet it was all made more beautiful that day by the rain and the light. Bright green moss clung to everything, and the skunk cabbage stink was working its magic with the bugs. The forest world was as it should be…

And then the magic hit me and I was seriously in awe. This was so incredible—even if the plants were not necessarily at their best.
Don’t you just want to make snake noises? Ssssssssssss. Sssssssssssssssss. Ssssssssssssssssssssss.

I hope to return to this site a bit later this year so that I can catch them in bloom.

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So, this is the last post from the trip. Though I have been home for awhile now, the posts have had to go on. I am still so grateful that I was well enough to travel on my own for a few days but I have paid heavily for the vacation and I am still not quite recovered. Believe it or not, my right calf is swollen from pressing on the gas petal. Stupid swelling problems that just get sillier and sillier.

The many seeds and seedlings I have cannot wait any longer, and I have to plant my new Burpee ‘Black Cat’ Petunias. I don’t usually fall prey to special new introductions named to make me crave them, but I totally fell for this one. They really are black and I am happy I spent a bit extra for them.

Plant Hunting Along the Beaches of the Southern Oregon Coast

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Lovely rustic yurt courtesy of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Harris Beach State Park, near Brookings, Oregon. (These begin at $39 per night.)

Waking up in my yurt to the sound of the rain tap tap tapping was not an ideal way to spend my spring break, but I am an Oregonian so I was more than prepared to deal with it. With my old sleeping bag from back when I used to backpack up mountainsides, and a Pendleton blanket with a big salmon on it that my dad had given me, I had slept very well the night before and I was ready to head out for an expedition of my own. My plan was to drive at whatever pace I felt like to my next destination, and to have fun and to relax while doing so. I had no idea which native plants I would see because I’d promised myself not to plan this all out in advance. I was just going to look at whatever I could find and make note of it. I also took along not only my handy digital camera, but a Holga and a funky Japanese camera too. With some special film inside, those other cameras should turn out some great images, but of course, I have to wait for those to be developed. I can wait.

Our large trees can become very dangerous during the winter months especially when the waves are unpredictable.

The last time I drove through Brookings it was Thanksgiving 2009 and my husband and I were driving to Gold Beach for the night. As we flew into town I saw a sign for an Azalea Park and that was news to me! I thought I knew about all of the plant parks so I vowed to return. Over a year later, there I was last week, after having visited the harbor for some coffee for the road.

The ancient native azaleas in this thirty-three acre park have been here since Lewis and Clark visited—what was to later become the state of Oregon—back during the winter of 1805-1806. (Sure the Lewis and Clark Expedition was nowhere near these shrubs, but that’s a long time for a shrub to live so it should be noted I guess.)

No one really noticed or cared much for this stand of plants until 1937 when inspired folks cleared the old pastures, removing the overgrown vines, and later petitioned to have the native shrubs designated as a State Park. From 1939-1993 their wish was granted, but then in 1993, ownership and maintenance of the park reverted to the City of Brookings. Since then, it has been revitalized, with many new additions, and it is currently looking absolutely wonderful.

The group of volunteers that has stepped in to care for the park has done so because there are five varieties of endangered native Azaleas here. They knew what a treasure this is, and thanks to them, we still have these plants to enjoy.

I was only a bit sad that the plants are not labeled at all, but it may be done in an effort to keep people like me from snipping at them. I am unable to find information about the actual plants online, and I would love to know more about all of them, and genetically what makes them special, but as for as I can tell, the only native azalea is the Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) so these must all be different natural varieties of the same plant. Curiouser and curiouser… Yes, now I see it all clearly. The link really helped.

The next stop was the Pistol River and its wayside. I had to stop there because it had been the name of my yurt the night before. Not only did I have the whole vista to myself that morning but, lucky me, I found some random plants sitting here and there not far from the car. I also found a bit of history.

When I read this Oregon History sign I thought again of genealogical history but this time it was my husband’s and not mine. At the time this skirmish occurred, during March of 1856, my husband’s French Canadian ancestors had already been busy in the West for quite some time and had already made history themselves. Ten years beforehand, a relative of my husband’s was also attacked and killed in Southern Oregon, but it was while he was camped on Klamath Lake in the interior with an expedition party. One month later that same group was back in California taking part in the Bear Flag Revolt in a very strange moment in the history of California.

Basil LaJeunesse was killed while the group slept beside the lake one night. It was an Indian attack and he received a hatchet to the head on May 9th, of 1846. Asleep beside him was his dear friend and expedition companion, Kit Carson. Yes, it was that Kit Carson.

Working with John Frémont, the American military officer and explorer, they’d both been hired to travel to California along with a group of fifty-three other men by the President of the US. It was officially an exploration party, but in reality, they were being hired to spy on the Mexican government in California. The Mexican officials figured it out and they were asked to leave. That’s how they ended up just over the border in Oregon Territory. That night Frémont had forgotten to post a guard because he was waiting to receive word from the President as to how to proceed with California since at that time, they’d expected a fight with Mexico. The fight never occurred.

Back home in Wyoming, Basil’s older brother married a Shoshone woman from Southern Oregon and he opened up a trading post named in his brother’s memory. Fort Seminoe (after his brother’s Catholic baptismal name) operated from 1852-1855. The Oregon Trail went right past their front door as did the Mormon and California Trails. (Four of my great-great-great grandparents walked right past Charles and his wife on their way from Kentucky to Oregon and if they’d only known someday I would marry one of their descendants I cannot imagine what they would have thought.) Eventually, as tensions with the Natives Americans grew, Charles was forced to hand the fort to the Sioux in 1855 and during the same Indian War era, he left to work as a tracker, and was killed somewhere on the Yellowstone River. His body was never found but each year tourists and fly fishermen flock there like geese. It is still hard for me to blend these two different histories of a place together since they honestly slammed together rather quickly during the last few generations but I am working on it. The fact that my father has made a life for himself as a well-known fly fisherman has only served to convolute this whole funny reality even more.

I own a copy of the journal Frémont wrote during that fateful expedition and it has great plant descriptions throughout. It is kind of a nice read to be honest, but it is still shocking to have learned all of this about my husband’s past and to tie him to historic characters mentioned in books is still strange.

Due to adoption, none of this information was known until recently. All I can say is that it is hard to change how you see your place in the world when you are in your 30s. One day you know your story, then the next, well, you’re simply forced into becoming a different person. Going through this experience with him has been fascinating but it is slow going.

I return to plants again, and though the tangent may seem a bit off, I hope you enjoyed it. More bits and pieces will appear from time to time.

Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis).
I don’t know what this is either but it was hanging in up high above the ocean so I figured I should include it too.
This must be some kind of Manzanita.
I have no idea what this is, but I am sure that one of my friends will let me know.
I’m not sure how long it was before I stopped again, but I did not too far down the road. The ocean was amazing that day and I was beginning to get more and more excited about all of the plantlife I was finding all over the place. In so many ways, I was really happy that day. After a long winter, and a lot of medical issues, that day was just the right thing.
I have no idea what this was, or if it was even native, but it was there.

This is some kind of Lupine with a grass.
Sea Pink (Armeria maritima).
Just off the highway and all to myself.

When I landed in Gold Beach, I pulled over to take these pictures for those of you who have not yet seen what we have here in Oregon for our tsunami public education signage. I like the signs a lot and am happy that public safety efforts have started in our state, but we are far from ready. When the earthquake hit Japan just a few weeks ago many of us already understood that meant to take cover and to use caution but we were certainly not ready for anything.

Luckily we were not wiped out, but we will eventually begin finding the debris from Japan on our coastline. It is expected to arrive in 3 years but it may only take 1 year.

I am fairly confident that the mess will arrive here just as the many fishing floats have for years and years. Beachcombers have always cherished the blown glass objets d’art but something really different is heading our way now.

Just down the road at the beach I discovered this nice little piece of ingenuity. When I was a girl, I used to make shelters like this with my friends and their families. At camp, we also learned how to make ones with tree boughs for a roof. Transported to any garden setting, this would be really wonderful, especially in a stumpery.
A wind shelter, Gold Beach, Oregon.

This is why I was really there though. Like many others, I drive to this part of our coast for the rocks—the beautiful rocks that I handpick for my garden.

Agate hunting, Gold Beach, Oregon.

After loading up the reuseable grocery bags I jumped back into the car and headed north. Again, I randomly selected several waysides and parks and was delighted by all of the additional plants I was able to spot that day.

Oregon Myrtle or California Bay (Umbellularia californica).
I am not completely sure of the mix here, but there are at least three native plants I can spot I just cannot recall all of their names right now.
Ok. It was a grave wayside. Again, the Native Americans are blamed as having massacred but I have such a hard time with that since we were taking all of their land and resources away from them. Still a very touchy subject for many Americans and when you see things like this you really have to stop and wonder. I am sorry they lost their lives, but I am glad that this park was set aside for us to sit and think about this dark part of our history.
Not sure of ID, but it is really pretty.
Yellow Prairie Violet (Viola praemorsa).
Rattlesnake Plantain or Rattlesnake Orchid (Goodyera oblongifolia).
Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum).
Stuff that looks like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese but it is actually something slimy growing on the tree.
Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus).
Sweet Coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus).
Non-native Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum).
Unknown Oxalis.
Rock collecting opportunities.
This is the only native Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ that I ran across and it was on a suicide mission in the sand so I liberated it to higher ground. This is a really slow-growing sedum at my house for some reason but I have no idea how one kind can grow so quickly and another slowly.
Unknown coastal pine.
Evergreen Huckleberry. I HIGHLY recommend these bushes for their berries.  (Vaccinium ovatum).
Not sure if this is Usnea lichen but it looks like it. This is not moss. If we have 20 words for rain in the NW, we have at least 200 names for different kinds of creepy things that grow on trees.
It’s another Oregon Myrtle though I prefer Headache Tree because it is so strongly scented. (Umbellularia californica).
Salal (Gaultheria shallon).
Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum).
Ocean of non-native Gorse (Ulex europaeus).
Stand of native Pacific Coast Iris on a hill facing the Pacific Ocean (Iris douglasiana).
Not sure exactly exactly what this is.
Cannot remember the name but this one is familiar.
Female Coast Silk Tassel shrub (Garrya elliptica). The male catkins are much showier and longer and often show up in photos. I tried to find some, but all that was available were the female catkins which were still clinging to ripe seeds from last year. Impressive and fruitful.
I have no idea what this fern-like thing was that I found growing in a flooded meadow. Any hints botanical buddies??

Bearberry of Twinberry Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata var. ledebourii). These are pretty plentiful all along the way but nevertheless I kept finding myself wanting to take picture after picture of their little blooms.

Some of the last flower pictures I snapped were of these two lovelies. I am pretty sure the are Clarkia, but I really cannot figure out which one they are. Maybe someone just tossed seeds out the window to see if they would grow down at the coast in a pretty harsh environment where a river meets the ocean. They looked native to me though.

As I rolled into Coos Bay I was greeted by the sight below. Part of me could not help but think of the movie The Goonies and my thoughts went up Highway 101 to Astoria. What a great day I had and right now I really wish I was back on the road.

Rhodies kicked to the curb

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For some strange reason, whenever I turn my back, another great rhododendron is being removed from a garden or yard. Offered for free online almost every day of the week, the long line of them never seems to cease. If the owners aren’t into back-breaking labor, they gleefully will let you dig the beasts up on your own. I have never accepted this kind of torture, but my husband and I did help a neighbor with one that he needed moved because it was huge and in a tiny bed. This seemed like a fun job though because it is amazing in bloom, but I would never ask a stranger to do that kind of work in exchange for a free shrub! Some folks just risk it and will simply leave them on a curb with a cardboard sign reading “free,”but the worst is when old specimens aren’t even saved. Ripped apart limb by limb they too are left on the curb, but this time they are destined for a compost heap. Ah! The circle of life…
It saddens me to see a plant once so beloved by countless homeowners all over the NW as being painfully out of fashion with a new generation of homeowners. Sure, many of them are pink or rose, but what about those red azaleas? Did you happen to notice the yellow ones or maybe some of the deep purple? Does anyone care that they finally made one that is almost black? I really care about all of them and sometimes even the pink.
My feelings by now must be transparent. As a child, I was surrounded by many gardeners, of many different genders and generations, and they all loved rhodies and azaleas. Mom was fond of the red ones, and even today, she still has them all over her yard and they are amazing in bloom. In the beginning though, when I was quite small, and she had only just begun her rhododendron collection, she would stop and ask strangers about which ones they had in their yards if she saw something she liked. At my Catholic school each year we would fill (and cover) the alter on the Virgin Mary’s feast day with a rainbow of trusses and I recall that colored carpet so vividly even today. On May Day I would also make paper baskets for our neighbors Essie and Clyde on May Day. I would fill them with rhododendron blooms, ring their doorbell, and run away. They never said anything to me, but of course they knew I had done it.
Now younger folks and transplants to Portland just don’t seem to have the same sentimental attachment to these beauties that I obviously do. And I, the most non-romantic romantic I know, cannot get them out of my mind. Maybe tomorrow I’ll order another, or maybe I will go rescue one that someone else no longer wants.