Let’s hear it for th­ese glo­ri­ously com­mon flow­ers

Toronto Star - - LIFE - So­nia Day

“Ev­ery­one pooh-poohs morn­ing glo­ries,” gripes my friend Carol.

True. They are the Walmart of flow­ers — lack­ing in class and too down­mar­ket to get much re­spect. And if you plant their seeds in spring, and then start rav­ing about their Day-Glo flow­ers, you’re likely to be se­cretly treated with scorn and dis­missed as a rube, not a “real” gar­dener.

Yet such is the fate of any plant that be­comes too pop­u­lar. It hap­pened to red gera­ni­ums — gar­den de­sign di­vas de­spise them — and in­creas­ingly, I de­tect the same kind of con­tempt de­vel­op­ing for Pha­laenop­sis or­chids. Although their ex­tra­or­di­nary flow­ers are glo­ri­ous, grace­ful and long-last­ing (and, only a decade ago, were rare, ex­pen­sive and highly prized), who wants to own any­thing that’s now churned out by the mil­lions and sold at ev­ery su­per­mar­ket and cor­ner store?

If we’re hon­est about it, not many of us. At heart, ev­ery keen gar­dener is a bit of a snob — and a show-off to boot. We want our “ba­bies” to stand out from the crowd and be the sub­ject of ooh-and-aah ad­mi­ra­tion from less ex­pe­ri­enced gar­den­ers. And if, in their early stages of de­vel­op­ment, those fledglings be­have like un­co­op­er­a­tive, surly teenagers, well, so much the bet­ter. Then we can brag about how dif­fi­cult they were to nur­ture into adult­hood.

Thus, poor old morn­ing glo­ries don’t re­ally cut the mus­tard. They’re too cheery, too easy, too lack­ing in chal­lenge, too will­ing to drop their off­spring ev­ery­where and then re­turn the fol­low­ing spring to clam­ber willy nilly all over the place.

And their lurid, trum­pet-shaped flow­ers that last only a day . . . well, they’re un­de­ni­ably eye-catch­ing — ditto the green leaves shaped ex­actly like hearts — but we see so many of them, so why bother?

Yet fans like my friend Carol, who lives in an Av­enue Rd. condo, say it’s time to give a shout-out to this most com­mon mem­ber of the Ipo­moea fam­ily.

“I love my morn­ing glo­ries,” she de­clares firmly. “They cover a trel­lis on the front of my bal­cony and shield me from the western sun. They have flow­ers all sum­mer. And I don’t need to worry about over­win­ter­ing their pot some­where, be­cause the seeds just come up by them­selves in spring. They’re per­fect.”

An­other fan in the High Park area agrees. This past sum­mer, her morn­ing glory vines were so ener- getic, they spread all over flower pots, shrubs and even a broom. And they haven’t stopped pro­duc­ing their char­ac­ter­is­tic pur­ple flow­ers.

“Next year, I want to train the vines to climb over a dead cherry tree in front of my house,” she says.

For any­one who wants to don the morn­ing glory man­tle too (or has failed with them be­fore), a few tips:

They need sun — lots of sun — to flower well. An east-fac­ing lo­ca­tion is par­tic­u­larly good. The buds won’t ac­tu­ally open un­til the sun’s rays strike them. So if that big golden orb in the sky doesn’t swing into your yard till the af­ter­noon, they won’t be “morn­ing” glo­ries.

You have a tan­gle of green­ery, but hardly any flow­ers? The lo­ca­tion is ei­ther too shady or the soil too rich. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, they don’t like fer­til­izer and flower more fre­quently in poor soil.

Morn­ing glo­ries are an­nu­als. The vines come up in spring, then die off in win­ter. Peo­ple some­times mis­tak­enly think they are peren­nial plants be­cause seeds will of­ten sprout in the same spot as the pre­vi­ous year.

Vines that grow from those seeds will flower quicker than new seeds you plant.

They come in a va­ri­ety of colours now, with fancy-dancy names such as Car­ni­vale de Venezia and Blue Pi­co­tee. But I’ve found that the most re­li­able morn­ing glo­ries are still the classic pur­ple kind.

Use them to screen vir­tu­ally any­thing — garbage cans, air con­di­tion­ing units, nasty neigh­bours — so long as the vines have some­thing to climb up.

Carol makes a good point. Let’s hear it for much-ma­ligned morn­ing glo­ries. so­ni­a­day.com


At heart, ev­ery keen gar­dener is a bit of a snob, So­nia Day writes. But it’s a shame to over­look com­mon plants such as morn­ing glo­ries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.