Monday, May 7, 2007

Help Wanted

It's inevitable. Every gardener has been there. A plant you have no recollection of ever putting into the ground pops out to stake its place in your plot of land. This spring, the mystery plant pictured made an appearance in my garden. And I need help identifying it. Anyone got any ideas?

Last fall I planted lots of bulbs. I suspect these delicate and graceful beauties snuck in with the daffodils, tulips, chionodoxa, and crocus. Still, their placement is odd. Two have appeared right in the middle of an emerging purple conflower. Another single stem and bloom has popped up in a patch of catmint several feet away.

It seems unlikely they would have survived had I just dropped them there. I suppose a squirrel could have tucked some bulbs or seeds away in the earth only to have forgotten about them. Or, if my original theory is correct, I unwittingly planted them and then via the winter freeze and spring thaw, they were heaved into their new locations. It's a puzzle whose pieces may never fit.

Recently I was faced with a similar puzzle that almost drove me to obsession. Many years ago, when I was just dabbling in the garden, I bought a plant with a promising description and placed it smack dab in the middle of my border. It rained like crazy that summer and the plant didn't make it. Or so I thought. Last spring, it emerged with its long, strap-like leaves. Then the stem started growing and it just kept going and going and going and going. When the flowers finally emerged on the towering tip of the plant, there were dozens and dozens of tiny white blossoms. By the time that plant was done, it was almost six feet tall. I was in awe. And I was stumped. The plant's name had escaped me long ago.

I searched plant directories on the internet and poured over hundreds of pages of garden books in hopes of identifying this plant. I even emailed pictures to a local tv gardening show in hopes that they could help me. But nobody ever responded. All hope was lost. But then one day, when I had all but abandoned my quest to identify this plant, there it was in a plant guide. The foxtail lily!

The foxtail lily changed things for me. I was done dabbling. I was going to get serious about really knowing my plants. Simply knowing their names is a perfect place to start.

1 comment:

Scooter McDweeb said...

Maybe it's a hibithcuths.