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Flower of the Hour

Mid-April 2022

This Wednesday, I decided on a quick trip to the local nursery for some spring fling-flower purchases. I also decided to sit in the passenger seat of our vintage pickup truck, and let the spouse take the wheel. Before departing the domicile, I tried to get a recent pic of me with Gabrielle, the Snowshoe cat. Gabby does not like the sight of a camera, or having her picture taken. She tolerated one pic or two before softly and pitifully meowing. Her aura and my aura do not gladly coincide! I placed the sweet and lovely creature into her cat-bed which has its own “magic towel”, a heating pad surrounded by a hand towel. It was a fantastic, sunny day, not too warm, but what might be called temperate. Today was, in fact, one of those early spring afternoons when the wind coming through the truck window blows through your hair, and you forget all about chores and the bores of the world. Our 1966 Ford truck was a lucky buy during the autumn of 2016. A guy in Texas was very desperate to sell it; and my guy in California was very happy to buy it.

There’s no air conditioning in the rig, just the rolled-down windows, and the feeling that you’re whizzing along the freeway in a non-EPA-approved conveyance. Sometimes life has to be lived a bit on the edge. I even drove without a cell phone in my purse! The customers at the local nursery were in a friendly, chatty, elated mood. Everyone was polite and cheerful, and they all took turns chatting up Chance. A couple of people had brought their dogs (one was named Karma, which I consider really tempting fate). Everyone paid extravagant attention to Chance. One women asked to pet his silky ears. He glanced up at me, and I, his Owner, promptly gave permission. This gal proceeded to tell me tales of her Bassett hounds, Muffin, Rochester, and Morgan. Three Bassett hounds, I thought. Lots of clean-up with those monster paws! In leaving, this woman told me that Chance had made her day. I smiled at the thought and assured her that’s what he’s here for.

It was a real love-fest amidst the flower of the hour, who seemed to be a beagle named Chance. He takes the praise and affectionate stroking of his silken fur in stride. He’s quite used to it. No matter where this dog goes, he is the center of attention. Without any social media presence or activities! Today, I was intent on replacing some plants that had died during the past winter frost. Several small ornamental fountain grasses froze; three large, more hardy ones were purchased, with fingers still crossed. My new locale does not permit, to my deep dismay, the growing of geraniums, my geraniums that I nursed along from the previous house on Peach Lane to the rental and then, during the summer of 2020 outside the spanking brand-new, just-completed Dream House. The water-logged stems quickly froze, and then it was adieu for the pelargonium.

I did contemplate pulling the potted geraniums into the garage during winter, but, then. I yielded to the cold, hard facts of reality. I no longer reside in Newcastle, a horticultural and atmospheric facsimile of Provence, with blinding dry, hot summers and decomposed granite for soil. Geraniums thrived everywhere there, in pots, in flower beds, in gardens, on slopes. I now live in the Sierra Nevada foothills, with rich topsoil, and freezing winter temps. The foothills of Pyrénées orientales are more akin to my flora and any flower of the hour. The geranium is not the flower of the hour. The flower of the hour, for me, is the rose. Today, I limited my purchase to one rose tree, a stunner named South Africa Sunbelt. The carpet roses, in coral and apple-blossom, technically qualify as Rosa, but I’ll not be pruning them. There are more than enough bare slopes for them to start to carpet-cover the ground. They’ll get a good start, tomorrow.

Of course, I had to purchase a favorite perennial, a Nikko blue hydrangea, along with a few African daisies. The soil here is certainly acidic enough for the hydrangea. There’s a place in the shade for it, and a sunny slope for the clumping daisies. I’ve scoped out some prime locations for a few ornamental trees: a tulip magnolia, dogwood, and cedar. The cedar tree replaces an Italian stone pine tree that Dear Husband purchased in a grocery store, post-Christmas 2018. He dubbed it The Salvini Tree, in honour of Matteo Salvini. That Italian leader of the Northern League party is biding his time, waiting for sanity to return to Italy. (It’s on it’s way!) This past winter, a large buck rubbed his antlers against the tender trunk and incipient canopy of the Salvini tree. Spreading his eau de buck put an end to that budding evergreen.

With some enchantment, I eyed a gorgeous gilded elephant ornament for the garden. At $275, Mr. Pachyderm can reside with pride in this huge nursery. There was a white elephant as well, but the gold one is spectacular! This business had been family-owned for decades, but, in 2019, the proprietors leased the vast acreage to a small corporation in this part of California. Thus far, this duo-private enterprise has thrived. The founders of this plant-haven were fortunate to have buddied-up with a bigger-business when they did, although the locals, who don’t like change of any kind, they bemoaned the intrusion of a corporate entity upon a small-business. Every size and type of an enterprise has its plusses and its minuses in this land of opportunity. This family enterprise, in my experienced opinion, possessed more minuses than plusses. I, and some friends, have experienced insulting, even injurious, business and personal dealings with the original owners. It took the promising prospects of this newbie company called Green Acres to lure me back to this Sierra Nevada foothills nursery. The site has been modernized, refurbished, expanded, and so wonderfully improved that those sour notes of the past are well in the past.

The beauty of a garden can perform those miracles of the heart. The lushness and vibrant colors of a plant nursery can work as a soothing balm for people who need a few rays of sunshine in their lives. It’s not often that I encounter the complete radiance of people in a public setting. Too often, a curmudgeon or whiner spoils the fun for everyone. Not so today. The flower of the hour was kindness. It just might be infectious, those invisible spores of good will, floating from human heart to human heart. Certain auras just naturally impart generosity. I still feel jubilant to have taken part in the high spirits of spring amidst a warming trend after a long winter. Without any demand or expectation, that warming trend of the heart just might continue beyond today.


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