Posted by: jsmcfadden | March 12, 2011

Spring 2: Freesia

You have to see where they are planted, first. Along the wall of the studio, the add-on to the house, built by the owners before us, there is a window facing west.  Below that window is a red rose bush and that’s about it. Except for some freesias; bulbs we put in during a bulb obsession several years ago. We still are surprised at sudden flowers and then we remember, oh, yeah. We planted some bulbs there that year.

So, the freesias are there, just to the south of the red rose bush. During the winter and early spring, they get great afternoon light, say, from 3 until sunset. But no morning light, because the house shades them from the south. This photo was taken on March 5, pretty early because I had to leave the house at 9 for an NHS outing.  It was overcast, but fairly bright out. But not much real sunlight to warm & encourage growth.

Once full spring is here in NorCal, they get great light from about 10 until 3 and then harsh, burning light — see the white stucco? — until sunset. It’s a tough place to live. Extreme conditions. Well, extreme for Fairfield; not extreme for, say, Chicago.

So the freesias get rangy. Then once they bloom, their little stalks are too slender to hold the weight of the flower — plus, of course, the dozens of ants who love to climb all over them. So they droop and fall over and rest on the mud. Perhaps not the most photogenic.

But oh, their fragrance is sweet. Subtle, reminiscent of honeysuckle but not so cloying, and it wafts up when there’s a bit of a breeze, and right into our bedroom window there to the south.

Here they are a week later, March 12. This photo was taken almost the same time of morning, after a week of mostly sunny days and temps  in the low to mid-60’s all week.  See their little buds?! The earliest bloom is already laying down, too heavy for its stem. And there’s one to the right which is still upright, but not for long, as its flowers open and catch more water, wind, and ants.

Notice the one stuck in the rose bush. It’s been there the whole time, growing right up there against a thorn. It’s so poetic and ironic leaning up there, I just couldn’t loosen it and set it free. It would just droop anyway and end up on the ground. 

So there it is, propped up by some thorns, still getting lots of sun because the rose hasn’t leafed out yet after its winter cut-back.

Don’t you think it’s ironic and poetic? I must admit, however, it is difficult to get close enough to sniff its sweetness. Durn thorns!


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