Best Buds

This time of year, right before July and the celebration of Independence Day, begins the part where the colorful flowers are in full bloom.

But right behind them, ready to burst into color, are the buds of the flowers that have not quite gotten ready. I find the buds of these plants to be interesting. They have all the promise of summer, but they resemble their final appearance but little.

 This is my crocosmia about to start its flowers. It blooms along with the hyperion daylily, below, and the tiger lilies, who will be the subject of another day. Lucifer is its proper name, but before it grows the brilliant red flowers that attract the hummingbirds along with other great creatures, it has this candy-like appearance. It looks artificial, or even like something out of a tropical fantasy, yet is comfortable in our non-paradise clime.

Friends who can take themselves out of their comfort zone and be sweet and retiring are valuable. It is not comfortable to be overwhelmed by the needs of others, sometimes. The bright, cheerful colors are waiting to be appreciated, and they will be, in time.

 Hyperion daylily blooms later than the fulva type, But is worth the wait for its brilliant yellow color and its wonderful scent. As all daylilies, it offers only a brief flowering period, and each flower fades to tatters after one, only one day. Hence its name. But it is a venerable member of the garden, and I’ve spent lots of time propagating it to ensure its survival.

This plant is from a long line of hyperion daylilies. It bides its time, and then reminds me that I need to approach it from afar to enjoy its wonderful aroma. In return for its graceful ways, I need to groom it and to make sure that the incoming flowers get the most out of the nourishment it provides. Its scent is stronger at different times, teaching me that to reach its potential, it has to experience different exposures to wind, rain and heat.

 Zinnias are annuals that like hot, dry, torrid places. They aren’t much to look at, but once they start to bloom, they will go all summer long, in spite of heat, a southern exposure, and wind. They are coarse in structure, but reward patient birds and bees with lots of colorful honey.

Hairy, stiff stems support a beautiful flower. Some friends are like that. They are stiff, aloof, but offer some of the most beautiful insights and thoughts. Such is the zinnia. It comes all the way from hotter, drier environments to remind us to be patient with the roughness. While the roughness remains, it gives you beauty that is unmatched in the garden.

A memory of Brooklyn, Sedum starts out early on, to bloom and blossom alongside its more spectacular cousin, the Autumn Joy. I like this one. It has a softer, flatter flower and attracts many more bees when they need some last-minute energy in the fall. It fills in nicely wherever some color is needed. As a child, I would take a fleshy leaf and actually write with it on dry concrete. But that is before I realized it is a living thing, and the fleshy leaves make it a great plant for dry areas. No pests, no bother. That’s my tough Brooklyn friend.

Soft but watery, it reminds me of how plants can maintain their health by evolving to save precious water. Some friends will do this. They will hold it all inside, waiting for you to appreciate the fact that they are ready to nourish you if only you understand that the softness is due to the volume of energy they hold inside.

This is not really a bud, but the beginning of a female Chinese Holly fruit. These berries will mature to a brilliant red, holding its place through the winter. The leaves of this plant are sharp and spiny, but if you cut them back enough, during the active summer the leaves are softer when young. Also, cutting it back helps to shape it and keep it round and small.

Sharp and prickly, some friends only allow you to share the early ideas. Once the idea has matured, like the leaves of this holly, you can’t get near to them. Then, when all is unavailable, the red berries feed the birds through the winter, showing that eventually they are rewarding, to themselves and to nature.

Crape Myrtle begins its journey to its own maturity around now. Each branch tip will produce pink (or white or purple if you have) clusters of flowers. This small tree/shrub is called Summer Lilac, because it blooms later in the season. But it is attractive throughout, with its mottled bark and neat structure. This plant also needs pruning back to produce more fresh branches which will bear the flowers. If it blooms at the right time, it will accompany phlox and make for a veritable feast for the insects.

Pruning or letting go of old wood is the best way to go forward with some friends. Give up, let go of old gripes and arguments, and the new growth will surprise you.

My buds are with me all the time. Just like good friends, they hold back until they need to pour on the charm and love.

I can rely on them to stay back until they are needed, in the summer when things are going full on, it is nice to sit back and enjoy the sights and scents of these various beings as they also go about their business. Each one is special, and knowing their habits and various ways is comforting.

I hope you also have such friends, who are reliable and quiet, then right there when you need them, to offer hope and joy.

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