June 07, 2006

Resurrection in the flower bed

Angle trumpetSometimes very strange things happen in a garden. At times brave gardeners will push the envelope, trying to grow things that shouldn't survive in their zone. (Where is Robert Service when you need him? "Strange things are done in the summer sun, by the folks who till the soil..." or something like that.) But sometimes a brave plant will take matters into its own hands and push the envelope without human intervention. This is such a story.

I am always looking for ways to keep critters out of my flowerbeds. Not the bumblebees and earthworms and such, they are most welcome. Cats are more welcome on my couch. So when I moved my crown of thorns cactus outside for its summer sunbath, I got the brilliant idea to park it, pot and all, at the back of one of my front flower beds, right in the middle of a prime cat corridor. Cleo, our resident feline, immediately had to check it out and proved the efficacity of this kind of barrier, to my great satisfaction.

But a few days later, I noticed the pot was listing forward. Not being one to puzzle over mysteries needlessly, I didn't stop to question how it got that way, I just set about to rectify the situation. Imagine my surprise when I found a vigorous clump of yellow shoots pushing up hard from the soil and unbalancing the pot. What on earth! Or, more accurately, What in earth!

I hadn't planted any perennials there. I was sure of it. A week of waiting let the little leaves green up, but I still didn't recognize them. I checked all my perennial seed packets, but nothing I had would have produced this kind of clump. I finally took my dilemma to the Name That Plant! forum where the resident experts and sometimes one of the rest of us usually nail an ID within 30 minutes, given a decent picture to work with. My post went unanswered for hours.

Finally one very puzzled fellow opined that the leaves looked like young brugmansia or datura shoots growing from a root, but that this would be highly unlikely in my zone.

DatruasNo way! Because I had, as a matter of fact, grown daturas in that bed last year. The carpets of datura seedlings I'd been digging up for the last three weeks were ample reminders. (I've mulched that bed now, enough is enough!)

As unlikely as it may seem, one enterprising datura, taking comfort from its proximity to the house no doubt, managed to survive our winter (admittedly a bit of a wimpy one) and was coming back bigger and better than ever! The new leaves look quite a bit different from the mature ones, but the stalks are right, and the smell of the broken leaves is right too.

I've got a lot of respect for survivors. If I can figure out a way to let it stay without it overwhelming the little PG hydrangea which has taken up residence in the middle of that bed, I'll let it stay.

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