Flowers

Nicotiana

Our night-scented tobacco is finally blooming. I’ve never grown it before, but the Tomato Man was selling it as a companion plant for tomatoes. The theory is that it attracts tomato hornworms, so they’ll chew it up and leave the tomatoes alone. I don’t know how well it will work, but I figured it was worth $2.50 to find out. It’s certainly growing well. I haven’t seen any hawk moths in our neighborhood, so I don’t know if hornworms are really a problem here. I guess we’ll find out.

Anyway, it’s a pretty addition to the garden.

Some of my roses have buds on them, and a few zinnias came up behind the back fence — descendants of last year’s crop — and are about ready to bloom. I planted two more daisies and some baby’s breath out there tonight. We’ll see how they do. We’ve also got blossoms on the cucumbers and Jacob’s cattle beans, a few pods on the peas, and loads of buds on the zucchini. At least one zucchini blossom is ready to open any day now.

The sunflowers are getting big, too. We just planted them in late April, and they’re already almost as tall as the air conditioner:

Sunflowers

I’m looking forward to seeing them bloom so I can deliver bouquets to some of my friends this summer. I always enjoyed taking flowers to work in Belleville. We had all kinds of flowers in the yard — lilacs and roses and rugosas and irises that we inherited from a previous homeowner, tulips and grape hyacinths that I planted in a container, and a huge assortment of wildflowers I’d planted, including zinnias and sunflowers and Indian blankets — and those flowers became quite popular with my colleagues.

It all started when my boss was having kind of a crummy day, and just for the heck of it, I came back from dinner with a tulip or something and set it on her desk. After a while, the tulip wilted and looked pretty pitiful, so I told her if she’d give me the vase back, I’d take it home and refill it with something new. After that, it became kind of a running thing for me to put fresh flowers on Candy’s desk.

For some reason, I brought an extra flower in one night, and our hard-boiled investigative reporter — a tough, tenacious ex-con who delighted in digging up dirt on people — asked if he could keep it on his desk.

I laughed and told him to go ahead.

When the flower wilted, he put the vase back on my desk with a note that said, “More flowers, please.”

I refilled the vase and returned it to his desk, and then another guy asked if he could have it next, and that started this running thing where the vase would sort of make its way around the newsroom — the flowers would die, and I’d take the vase home and refill it and put it on the next person’s desk.

I had enough flowers and got enough requests that I brought in some extra containers and kept them all filled with flowers. I think at one point, we had upwards of a half-dozen jars and vases and bottles scattered around the newsroom. It was really cute.

Mrs. Eddy refers to roses as “the smile of God.” After seeing these tough, cynical journalists’ face light up when I set fresh flowers on their desks, I think she must be right.

Maybe we’ll see some smiles in my current office this summer when jars of sunflowers start showing up on people’s desks. :)

Emily

3 thoughts on “Flowers”

  1. That flowering tobacco is very pretty. How can hornworms be so icky and hummingbird moths so neat? We’ll probably have the hornworms this year because we get the moths. They are really fascinating creatures to watch when they’re adults, though. I discovered them a couple of years ago in my morning glories that grow up the porch posts. I was reading on the Garden Web site the other day about a woman who taught her dogs to hunt hornworms. She was pulling the pests off the tomato plants and the dogs started begging for them, so she tossed the caterpillars their way. The dogs considered them a great delicacy and soon began to hunt them on their own. Scout, I’m sure, would decide to help herself to some of the salad bar to go with the insect munchies…

    You might want to clear some of those sunflowers away from your air conditioner. It will have to work a lot harder than it should if it can’t get good airflow around it.

  2. Pam,

    I can’t tell that the plant has made any difference. It was supposed to attract the hornworms so they would stay off the tomatoes, but I have found only two critters that looked like very small hornworms — neither of them on ANY of my plants — the whole season, and I’ve never seen a hawk or sphinx moth around here. I like the plant, though. I’ll probably plant a bunch of them next year, just because they’re pretty. Might do a few other varieties of nicotiana to go with it.

    The tomatoes hanging too close to the ground have fallen prey to the little terrapin who lives in the garden, and I think the birds have been taking little beaky-bites out of some of the higher tomatoes … but we’ve still gotten enough to munch on and a few to share. Not the harvest I’d hoped to get from 32 plants, but I think we planted too close together and in such a way that they’re shading each other a bit too much. I may thin them next week, feed them some seaweed tea (I think I’ve got some stale nori sheets in the cabinet), and see if I can salvage my salsa plans between now and the end of summer.

    Emily

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