Gardens of the Cross Timbers: Go for the roses!
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, the time to honor all mothers because none of us would be here otherwise. Will it be breakfast in bed or firing up the barbeque grill? Flowers or chocolates? Phone calls or picnic-style mini-family reunion outdoors? This Mother’s Day many will still rely on their creativity and wits to surprise or connect with mom.
I stumbled across some Mother’s Day gift ideas from ‘The Strategist’ that should have been ordered weeks ago: soft, comfy pajamas since mom is spending most of her time at home and might as well be comfortable. Mushroom growing kit since it will provide a ready food source if supplies run low. The sun in the form of an alarm clock. The Philips clock resembles a bongo on its side. It begins with faint twilight emanating from the round face and progresses to full radiant sun, bathing mom with the artificial light of a new day. How great is that!
What for the mother-in law? The Strategist recommended a milk-glass cake stand. These women are apparently baking millions of cakes during the Covid-19 shutdown and have been ‘showcasing their quarantine bakes’ all over the internet. Don’t forget the wine. That’s for you.
Mothers are special in how they love and what they love. It has taken me years to get past the painful ending of my mother’s life, but happier memories are now bubbling to the surface. There were the Mother’s Day breakfasts that narrowly escaped disaster, either in the kitchen or being carried to the bedroom. Not exactly the food. Well, there were the pancakes that could sink battleships or scrambled eggs that ran off the plate. We often resorted to the standard buttered toast, jam, steaming hot coffee and icy cold orange juice presented on a tray……over a semi-prone woman with a big smile on her face. This called for nerves of steel. None of us wanted to hear the screams of a scalded person wearing her Mother’s Day breakfast. Nope.
Flowers for Mother’s Day you say. Warm thoughts fill my heart as I think of how my mother looked forward to seeing her clematis bloom each spring. Her two surviving clematis plants have been moved to my yard. Clematis vines came and went at my parent’s home, but two hardy plants lived for years. The purple ‘Jackmanii’ clematis lived under one pine tree in the front. The white clematis wound through the bushes at the edge of the back yard. Both those clematis are gone.
Last week one of the transplanted clematis exploded in exuberant large pink streaked flowers and has accepted life on a trellis far away from southeast Oklahoma. The other wilder, unrestrained clematis that climbed through trees near my mother’s patio sent vines far beyond its trellis and is currently traveling through the redbud trees. The plant has so far produced fourteen four petaled maroon flowers all over the place.
The wisteria is another story. My mother suffered from wisteria envy and admired the purple hanging floral clusters that appeared everywhere but her house….over doors, along fences or out in the open. Her wisteria plant never bloomed. My cousin sent a small wisteria offspring from her plant which always flowered prolifically. Practically guaranteed to bloom. My mother soon had two bloomless wisterias. She root-pruned, trenched, clipped vines, fertilized and watered. No blooms. Some wisterias can take 15 years to bloom. Others grown from seed never flower.
Then one year she walked out the side door, heard a bird sing and looked straight up. Through the green leaves of the white poplar were blobs of purple. Sure enough, seen through a pair of binoculars, were wisteria blooms high above the top of the tree. Surprise.
Another surprise. Out of the blue I got a call from a member of Sister Cities Organization responsible for the student exchange program of Shawnee and Nikaho Japan. This year marks the 30th anniversary.
Would I be home Saturday? About noon three people arrived carrying a small (we’re talking inches) potted Dwarf Chinese Elm tree in a glazed blue ten-inch bonsai planter. The attached oval plaque said: “Presented to Rebecca Carlberg in honor of your years of dedication and service to the Japanese Peace Garden.” Aww. Linda Smith, my faithful JPG helper, also received a future bonsai and pot. Bonsai symbolizes peace and harmony. How cool. Now what.
Hours of research later, I realized taking care of bonsai trees requires much patience and tender loving care. The Chinese Elm had teeny little leaves on a multitude of small branches attached to a short pencil thin trunk. The elm’s destiny is to become the best tiniest tree at my house. I ordered two quarts of special bonsai soil and a bonsai kit complete with itty-bitty shovel, rake, sharp pointy scissors and, most important, an instruction booklet. This little tree is turning into an investment.
The pint-sized elm is now residing in the greenhouse with the big guys, two tall lemon trees. My goals, when the bonsai kit rolls in, will be read the directions, trim branches, tether out roots, arrange tree in the planter, read soil package, fill with bonsai planting medium, water, and take a picture. It may be the best the tree ever looks.
If you’re in search of flowers and, as with so many things today, can’t find any, look no further than the wild rose. The fence roses are madly blooming and offer up an alternative to a breathtaking floral display. These roses might even last two days. Make sure you’ve shaken off the insects.
The native climbing prairie rose is quite common in central Oklahoma. Four other native species live in the northeast to panhandle areas of Oklahoma. The nearly scentless flowers on the prairie rose begin life as pink but age to white. It may have thorns, so be careful. Do not confuse with the invasive multiflora rose from the Orient. This contender usually only has white flowers and blooms before the native roses. To tell the difference, look at the base of each stalk of leaflets. If you see a fringe of thread-like narrow leaves (stipules) which mimic those of a long-legged centipede, it is the impostor. Native wild roses have narrow plain leaves on the stem at the junction, no fringe.
By all means strip off all the flowers of the multiflora rose. They’ll look lovely in a vase. While you’re at it, why not remove the entire plant and feed it to goats.
From three different states and five separate locations, nine family icons gathered around the edge of laptops and on cell phones to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to our newly-minted four year old granddaughter. We watched as she blew out the candles, they relit, blew them out again, they reignited….(magic relighting candles). She figured it out, huffed and puffed and then blew the house down. Well, she did manage to permanently extinguish every little flame. Satisfied, she gave all of us a big grin.
Mom #1: I’ve had it. I’m selling the kid on eBay.
Mom #2: Don’t be crazy. You made him. That goes on Etsy!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Becky Emerson Carlberg, graduate of Oklahoma State (Plant Pathology) is a teacher, artist, writer as well as certified Oklahoma Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at Becscience@att.net.