Too Many Flowers

The first time that I drove by that uncanny corner, with the incredible flower bed that stretched along the curb, my jaw dropped.
And so it was the second and the third time, too. In fact, for more than a month I could hardly wait for the appearance of that dazzling display.
Every color in the rainbow was represented there, thanks to orange rudbeckia, pink and purple cosmos, red and yellow dahlia, blue salvia and maroon celosia.
That flowery corner became a landmark site, a welcome interruption to the predictable lawns, ground cover ivies, struggling roses and patches of impatiens under trees that constitute the monotonous horticultural vista of my daily commute.
But almost overnight my attitude toward this phenomenally floriferous, riotously colorful corner changed. One day without knowing why, I suddenly averted my eyes at the approach of “that corner.”
I did not want to be forced to pay my respects to the pink-orange-purple-yellow-red-and blue whatever it was: I just wasn’t in the mood. The next day was no different.
My eyes looked straight ahead, avoiding that hard-to-avoid corner at all costs. Eventually, I would begin glancing at that corner again when driving by, but only to wonder about why I had been so captivated and then disillusioned by the extravagant cornucopia of flowers.
It is easy to explain eventual disillusionment with a perpetually, relentlessly and haphazardly colorful landscape.
The brash assault of full spectrum color, day in and day out, becomes wearisome, it is difficult to focus the eye because of the plethora of colorful specimens; the beauty of each gorgeous plant is compromised or blurred by the equally gorgeous plants that surround it. You begin to understand why some people refuse to plant flowers of more than two or three different colors together.
Yet ultimately, perhaps, the problem with nonstop flowering – no matter what combination of flowers is involved – is the lack of expectation and absence of drama associated with it. The most memorable flowers are those whose presence is felt for no more than a month or two. In fact, it is their comparative brevity in bloom that accentuates their beauty.
What a wonderful wait it is, each year, for the appearance of flowers such as the marine blue clusters of the “Dark Star” ceanothus, the pink and white urns of the manzanita, or the orange-red trumpets of the leopard lily.
Tip of the week: According to Arthur Michaels of Van Nuys, blood meal, bone meal and cottonseed meal should be combined as fertilizers when preparing soil for fall planting. Michaels advises digging in 2 pounds of each fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting area. A standard coffee can (13-ounce size) will hold about 2 pounds of any of these fertilizers.

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