Great-grandson Mason was picking daffodils by age 2, always just one, a small one, and if none were open, he’d pick a wildflower instead.
And just as he was leaving, he’d bring it, with that grin that said he knew he’d done something kind and loving for you.
But just a few months away from his fifth birthday, Mason has never had a daffodil patch of his own. Son Kevin, his beloved “Pap-paw,” was entering shows at age 4, and winning, with just a few favorites ... the tazetta ‘Erlicheer,’ the cyclaminus ‘Jetfire.’ He didn’t have garden space, just cultivars that were only his.
Granddaughter Ashley, Mason’s mother, had her own rows in the garden, and her own flowers, carefully chosen each year, usually with pink in the coloring. Kevin said, “Get me some more ‘Jetfire’ or another six ‘Rapture.’ Ashley went through the catalog, checking hers off and then cutting back, when I said she was over the limit.
Mason hasn’t had any daffodils of his own, mostly because in the spring before he was three, CMDS called it a good 30 years, and we didn’t think there would be any more shows. But we were wrong, and he will have his corner of a flower bed in the picket fence garden, and for this year at least, I’ll do the choosing - early for Washington, Louisiana, mid-season for Memphis, and in batches of five, since rarely do the youth entrants have three-of-a-kind cultivars.
But Mason, at age four, had his own special flower bed, something Kevin and Ashley never had. Right now it’s a Easter Lily garden, but who knows what it will be.
Last spring we had acquired three new Easter lilies, which had bloomed heartily indoors and were ready to take their permanent place outdoors. So Kevin said, “Let’s let Mason plant them this afternoon.”
And plant them he did, though three or four adults sitting on the landing 15 feet away as audience might not have helped, and he hadn’t quite gotten the concept of how much “a little water,” around each settled plant.
As you can see from Vicki’s picture, the chosen spot was where the raised brick sidewalk curves around sharply to the east. And why there? Probably because we’ve learned to landscape the walkways so we can enjoy the flowers more.
Actually, I’d planted one Easter lily the year before and it bloomed well, so I knew it would work. I suspect I also chose the site as a place to protect the volunteer crepe myrtles, which I have to fight valiantly from a “weed” classification.
Now it is late April, and the whole group of plants are looking good, putting on buds, and I was so pleased. But then, one afternoon when Vicki and I were trying to deal with vital chores for a Friday afternoon, and I’d looked at the Weather Channel and seen that the possibility of rain storms was very strong, I said, “Vicki, let’s forget about that mopping, and stake these Easter lilies, whose stalks were bent over touching the ground.
“Just tell me what to do,” she answered, and went to the storage room to find stakes from the huge bucket of such stuff that had escaped Kevin’s last cleanup. We cut them so that, pushed sturdily into the ground, the stakes were just below the blooms. Then, and this is the tricky part and Vicki caught onto it immediately, thank goodness - I remember how to do a lot of things, and why, but not how to explain them - the looping around one stake, loosely looping the neck of the plant, and then around the other stake, giving the flower bud freedom to move in the wind.
Then she asked one of those questions that showed that flower gardens had not been her playground, “How big will it be?” I told her that with these Easter lilies, once they set a bloom stalk, they didn’t get any taller. “And how long will they grow?” I couldn’t promise her “forever” (You never can, in a garden), but I told her my mother had a big corner for many years, with one year’s Easter lily growing larger and putting up more bloom stalks every year.
That was the weekend the terrible rainstorm hit. When Vicki came on Monday, I said “See what you did. Those lilies are standing tall with opening blooms, because we read the weather right and gave them timely protection.”
Last week Vicki took the time to photograph Mason’s Easter lily garden at its peak. She’s got an intuitive sense of what makes a good flower photograph, and I’m sharing a few with you.
What will Mason plant to add to his garden, next weekend or the next. We’ve got some ideas, and we will share them when we choose just the right ones. One secret - there will be a few daffodils added, as the ‘Erlicheer’ tazetta bulbs from the great Christmas basket from the Heaths will fit the white theme.