Four O’Clocks

Hubby, Daughter and I transplanted ourselves last Autumn, after Summer’s growing season had ended and chilly nights had sent blooming plants into hibernation below the ground.

When we moved in, I had no idea what lay hidden in the yard.  I had been told the previous owner loved flowers and filled her yard with them.  Apart from Iris groups, spent Morning Glory and bare Clematis vines I saw little to indicate anything existed beyond what sight and experience told me.

Spring surprised me as Daffodils, Tulips, Grape Hyacinths, Peonies, Anemones, Lilies, Violets and Daisies popped up from nowhere and bloomed like crazy.  The Iris groups delighted me with different colors – each grouping different.  The Clematis vines produced huge, beautiful flowers.

I was amazed.

When we moved, I brought some of my favorite plants with me – bare root, in mesh bags.  They needed to be planted and so I began a flower bed in the back yard a few feet from the back porch.

As I dug into the dirt, I discovered “things” buried beneath the ground.  I employed Daughter’s help and we discovered many weird potato like things…some too large to dig up.  I removed those I could and dug around those I couldn’t remove, crafting the flower bed around them.

I looked online, certain they were tubers of some sort, and determined they were probably 4 o’clocks.

Within days of beginning the flower bed, I noticed strange little plants coming up all over.  And, I am not exaggerating when I say “all over.”

  • within the new flower bed
  • beside the porch
  • in the grass
  • in the tiny space between the porch and patio

It seemed the more I pulled out or cut down, the more they popped up.

Again, I returned online to see what 4 o’clocks look like. These seedlings resembled the pictures online. I read a little about them and saw the words “can be invasive and hard to eradicate.”

Wonderful…not!  Invasive flowers.

My next question was – what color?  Will they be mixed?  I hoped so.

I decided to pull out each 4 o’clock that didn’t pop up where I wanted it to and ended up with a border of them between the patio and flower bed.

“Nice,” I thought.

What I didn’t realize is how LARGE the plants would grow – especially those growing from the HUGE tubers.  They have overshadowed my flower bed and TWICE I’ve had to enlarge the bed away from them  and their overgrowing reach.

I asked my next door neighbor if she knew what color they bloomed and though she wasn’t certain, she suggested “white.”  The neighbor across the street warned me, saying she had received two plants – both white – and they had taken over part of her yard.

White.

White 4 o’clocks.  Not colorful as I’d hoped.  Not multi-colored. Not various colors.

White only.

I hoped from at least a red, or a pink.  Yellow would have been nice, too.  Anything other than white!

The plants grew and grew and grew.

They now stand almost 4 feet high and are a good 3 feet wide.  And, they are covered with pale yellow buds.

Covered.

Each bud will produce a flower.  Each flower will produce a seed. Each seed will…well, you know where I’m going with this.

I’ll admit, I started to get the shears and cut them off at the ground and save myself a lot of trouble and work.

But, I didn’t.  I delayed and told myself, “Self, let’s wait and see what color they bloom.  If they are all white, we will cut them down and be done with them.”

Yesterday, as the sun was setting, I was on the patio and Daughter pointed to the 4 o’clocks and said, “It looks like it’s white! Look!”

I did look.  Quarter-sized pure white trumpet flowers graced the tops of the dark, lush, blue-green glossy foliage. It was a beautiful sight. I was smitten!

I had fallen in love with my bland white 4 o’clocks.

I leaned in for a closer look and placed my nose within inches of one of the blossoms.  It smelled sweet.  I was delighted.

Yes, I know.  Today, I will have to go out and pick each spent flower. And, I will have to do this every day for as long as they bloom.

And, yes, I know, 4 o’clocks bloom only in the late afternoon and into the evening and to enjoy them I will have to be outside when the West Nile mosquitoes are biting.

I know this.

And, I am willing to become slave to what I abhorred and servant to what I did not want any part of.

Why? Because they please me and they provide me pleasure.  They satisfy something deep within me. They are worth the effort because of what they do for me.

Crazy? Probably.  But, I’m a gardener and gardeners are the only people I know crazy enough to be out working in 90 degree heat on a sunny day, picking off spent flowers before the next batch blooms.

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