Saturday, May 8, 2010

Asparagus and Impatiens

Sally is undeniably the gardener of the family. Her childhood among the fruit groves of western Colorado shaped her view of the world and her place in it. Asparagus is another thing. In Grand Junction, Colorado, the asparagus grew wild along the unlined banks of the irrigation canals throughout the valley. I remember one late April day when we went out with a bread wrapper and came home with beautiful asparagus spears. Sally had an eye for it. We'd drive along a road or ditch, and she'd see the telltale ferns that were the previous year's mature growth. She'd call for me to stop the car, and in just a few moments we had fresh asparagus.

The first time I realized Sally had this talent was the spring we were married in 1977. We were living in Yorkville, Illinois, where I was completing my student internship. One day, driving along a country road, Sally called for me to stop the car, whereupon she bounded toward a fence row, emerging with asparagus spears.

I was amazed, both at her ability to spot it, and the fact that I actually enjoyed eating it. Fresh asparagus, I learned, is entirely different from the horrid canned goop I had previously, and correctly, rejected.

So we have an asparagus bed out back, in addition to our fruit trees. This is the third year for our asparagus roots, and the spears are coming up thick, lovely, and delicious.

Though I have ceded the vegetable gardening garlands to Sally, I have found my niche. I am in charge of the impatiens in the planter box in front of the house. We only have impatiens there because they do best in the utter absence of sunlight on our north side. On two occasions we have planted begonias, but find that the brown litter from their spent blossoms is unsightly. Impatiens seem to grow quite well in the little planter, and add a lovely touch to our otherwise plain front yard. I call them my green babies.

Impatiently, and impetuously, I planted the impatiens more than a week ago. This week's cold overnight temperatures found me spreading plastic sheets over the planter to fend off the freeze. With the exception of one plant, which fell victim to it's location near the seam in my coverage scheme, my impatiens are alive and well. Summer will come soon enough, marked by luscious green foliage and lovely white blossoms. While we patiently await their emerging splendor, we'll content ourselves by munching on asparagus. And rhubarb. And then raspberries! And apricots...and....

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