Until moving to northeast Ohio, I never really understood why people got so religious about their perennials. Why plant so many? The blooming season is short, sometimes only a day if a late frost descends. The remaining thick leaves are kind of waxy and stiff, gone brown in streaks if it gets too hot or they get too much sun. I’m more of a wild garden lover. Overgrown, wispy plants and flowers. Wildflowers and the like.
In Kansas we certainly have cold weather and bad storms. Biting wind. But a cold snap is almost always followed by a warm snap, or at least a day of sunshine. The winter in Colorado is long, but heck, I lived at the foot of remote almost 14,000 foot mountains. Missouri is greyer, but muggy spring (even sometimes muggy winter) days and the long growing season make it feel like winter is just a visitor.
Which is to say that after this very long Ohio winter, I’m a perennial convert. I’m already thinking toward fall (that’s when you plant bulbs, right?) and the colors of tulips I will plant around our front yard tree, where a vestige of flowers still straggly bloom—eight red tulips and one yellow—planted by a previous homeowner gone by. Two tulips even survived John’s landscaping dig-out below our front room picture window. One red, one yellow with red streaks (or is it red with yellow streaks?). One snowdrop found a way through the tarp covered, gravel laded patio he constructed. I admire it’s will.
So after what feels like half a year of wet cold, what in actuality has been six months of wet cold, the flowers are riotous. When spring finally does come to Ohio, it lets out all the stops. The color is a presence. As much as I have yearned for sunny days, the light is almost too bright shining off of the reds, corals, purples, yellows, pinks, whites, blues, oranges, and a dozen variations on green. They are (dare I admit it?) easier to take in when a fog rolls in or a misty rain hangs on everything.
The novelist/philosopher Iris Murdoch—irises being my favorite perennial fragrance, an enticing mix of spice and honey—says this about the energy flowers emanate:
People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
Not unlike watching a three-year-old on a tricycle. The mad joy in G’s legs (and face) is intoxicating.
Dandelions having a similar effect.