Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garden Oddities

I have no idea how other people enjoy their gardens. For some the garden is a practical, hard-working plot of land, meant to produce yummy goods. For others it's a pastoral retreat in which to unwind and/or sunbathe. I, however, enjoy watching the action in the garden--especially its oddities. Last year, for instance, I stood at the back door every morning while brushing my teeth and watched squirrels go freaking bananas on our mammoth sunflower plants. The squirrels' bushy tails stood straight up in the air as they straddled the stalk and bent over the flower head to devour the seeds. They then ran around in fast furious circles until they passed out* or disappeared into a hole. I had never seen such behavior in my life.

And if this year's recent sightings are any indication, I think we're in for a pretty exciting gardening season. And by exciting, I mean weird.

Exhibit A: The Freakshow Double-Daffodil. Observe the daffodil at the top of this page. Do you see something odd about it? Try to compare it to the daffodil behind it and see if you can figure out what's different. Oh, that's right, the daffodil in the front is GIVING BIRTH to another daffodil.

This may well be a common occurrence--I really have no idea--but I had never seen anything like this before and was delighted to spot it the other day. The other daffodils bloomed weeks ago, and this one kind of struggled behind the pack, refusing to open. I thought it was a dud, or a runt at best. But low and behold, it was really just two daffodils in one. A deal!

Exhibit B: The Chopped Tulip. You may be wondering why I am showing you a photo of a headless tulip. I mean, that's not much to look at, right? Well, I didn't think so either until this happened THREE TIMES to different tulip plants. When this kind of stuff happens in my yard, I get a sudden urge to scratch my head and use phrases like "well how in tarnation?". I couldn't figure out for the life of me what creature could be smacking the tops off of the tulips. I mean, they're too tall and flimsy for squirrels to climb, I don't think we have raccoons around here, and birds, well...maybe a hawk?

And then I put it together. Our working theory is that it's the neighborhood cats. Two matching scroungy black-and-white brothers--both of whom, when sitting, are at exact eye-level with a delicately swaying, brightly colored tulip head. And what could be a more tantalizing cat toy than a tulip head bobbing in the breeze? When I pointed this out to Robb, I couldn't help admitting that I'd like to see the cats in the act because it probably looks pretty funny. Robb sagely pointed out, "it would be funnier if it was in the neighbor's yard."

Exhibit C: Bleeding Hearts! Oh, the drama of a plant that is named "bleeding heart"! We found this plant for sale in the front yard of a house that sells lawn art in East Hampton, Connecticut. Robb was smitten wtih the strange little heart-shaped flowers that look, yes, like they are bleeding. How grotesque! How romantic! Five dollars later and it was sitting in the van between us, bobbing its head this way and that along with the bumps on the highway. Me, my man, and our bleeding heart. We must find a very special place to plant this odd little valentine.

Exhibit D: Me looking suspicously like Cloris Leachman in Young Frankenstein as I fondle the double-daffodil. It just doesn't get weirder than that, folks.

*The squirrels did not really pass out.

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