By Anita GarnerDaddy was a master gardener with an aversion to forcing blooms. When pressured by mother, he’d cut flowers for her and bring them inside, one bloom at a time, for a small vase, but he refused to buy hothouse flowers because of what he considered their unnatural growing conditions.
Reverend Raymond Jones, a Southern preacher, advised his congregations to “bloom where you’re planted” and of course he meant it in terms of doing good works, no matter where life takes you. But his theory was one he also took literally. He was at odds with an industry’s need to force plants.
The root (sorry) of his aversion to cutting flowers may have stemmed (sorry) from the fact that his people were farmers by occupation. Some of them were sharecroppers who also tended vegetable gardens and sold produce for a living. Daddy came up gardening with Paw Paw Jones in order to survive.
When we moved from the Deep South to Southern California, a new world grew outside. Birds of Paradise. Avocados. Camellias. For the first time, Daddy had a pleasure garden and delighted in tending plants that nobody had to have, but he still didn’t cut any of them to bring inside.
At first he was apologetic about the rows of irises he planted around his vegetable patch, but soon pansies lined the driveway out front. He’d try anything. He coaxed to giant size some plants that shouldn’t have been able to thrive in Glendale, and later Palm Springs.
Daddy had been gone for years by the time I began putting Paperwhites in pots during the winter. I never saved the bulbs for re-planting outside but this year I’m trying. There’s a spot right under the lemon tree that gets nice morning sun. I think they’ll like it there, but since they’ve already been forced, I have no idea if they’ll want to show themselves again. If Daddy was around to appreciate watching them sprout and perfume the air here in my office, he might reconsider.