On Chaos

On Chaos

May 17 2020

A grape vine, sweet peas, snapdragons, beets, peppers, tomato plants, some up and coming baby’s breath, goji berries, an apricot, a service berry, self-seeding spinach, sunflowers, a small hazelnut, strawberries and some china asters all grow in an 8x10 foot corner of my garden. The whole larger garden around it started out to be an orchard with plenty of room for small fruits, apple, cherry and pear trees, and a grape arbor. But when I ran out of room in the adjoining vegetable garden a few vegetables ended up in the fledgling orchard.

Then of course there were cut flower seedlings that I couldn’t resist growing including a few Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate plants I had started in the greenhouse.

It is chaos and I love it. It occurred to me that this little corner is a perfect metaphor for life-you start with a plan, random things happen and maybe, if you know how to look at it, maybe something wonderful ensues.

Yes, I know, when the bushes grow large they will shade out the annual plants, but I’ll continue to fill in the spaces with something beautiful until that happens. For the best gardens, to my mind, are always a work in progress. Carefully curated gardens would quickly bore me, I must be puttering, getting new plants, trying a new design-always! Since I’ll never be done with any garden, they’ll probably be a little chaotic, but that’s ok, there’s room for dreams to grow.

Which brings me back to that Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate. Who wouldn’t want to grow that? Just for the name, goodness, the powers that name plants were having fun that day, though I can’t find any reference to where that name came from.

I start pre-chilled seeds in deep pots about a month before the last frost. They like heat and it will be a long time before they bloom-maybe 100 days. If I don’t jump start them in a warm greenhouse, there’s not much hope in Montana. There is something called growing degree days or GDD, where you can calculate how many days a plant will take to mature according to your daily temperature. Generally speaking, 50 degree days, even though it’s nice out, don’t count for plants that like heat. They will grow slowly if at all on such days, so how many days it will take this plant to flower depends on how warm it gets over those 100 days, give or take.

I was rewarded with five to six foot tall disorderly tresses of pink pendulous flowers that look particularly wonderful in cut flower arrangements. I’m told they may reseed-I hope so, I really hope so-they can come up wherever they want. I don’t mind a little chaos.

Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate, or polygonum orientale, or persicaria orientalis, annual, heirloom