Vines Around My Heart

Here in New England, everything green and growing is now ripe and rotting. While Wednesday has always been “Tiny Steps Gardening Day” there hasn’t been much to report. The garlic has been pulled, sunflowers are toppling over, and lone green tomatoes are hanging on for every diminishing day of sunshine.

We’re turning off the water at the Hampton Victory Garden.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Hillsborough County, Florida, Reggie Black’s vines are growing. As Reggie reminds me:

First they sleep
Then they creep
Then they leap

When Reggie first relocated to Zone 9, he spent some time observing the green scene. Then he began digging and planting and planning. Remember? Some things didn’t work out, like his kibbled tomatoes. But the vines were successful, and according to Reggie, he’s got some “serious leapers” right now. Cobbled together from Reggie’s e-mails and pictures, I’ll let him speak for himself.

“Vines grow everywhere in Florida seeking every niche they can find. The natives take over, quickly, if allowed. Frustrated with cultivated vines, I let this native vine that reached the lattice just keep growing. Without watering, feeding or any other care it quickly reached the top and stretched itself out. It hasn’t flowered yet, and has already climbed up to the second floor.”

“This Blackeyed Susan vine was the only survivor of the seeds I started. When I planted it at the base of this pillar, it wasn’t much to look at. And then it leaped!”

“I was fascinated at how it split itself into three vertical trunks, roughly equidistant apart. A newer fourth branch is visible in this picture, with nowhere to go but up the same path.”

“I bought this one at the store. It grew quickly and thickly up the lattice with an occasional blossom, but then it nearly drowned (I drilled holes in its pot to drain it), and then it cooked in the oppressive Florida heat. It all died away except for one branch, barely visible over the weeds. I fed it, weeded it, kept it watered, and it has returned with a handful of blossoms in exchange for just a few degrees drop in temperature. In the background a new vine has extended itself and started to reclaim the lattice.”

I know Reggie felt like quitting at times during the oppressive Zone 9 heat and humidity. For his patient waiting, beauty is his reward.

I didn’t know how to counsel and encourage him during his darkest days, so I just listened to his rambling tales of tropical plant life. I’m glad it all worked out; he’ll have more to tell us as he starts planting his fall crops.

He’s got a few things to say about coffee, too!

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2 Responses to Vines Around My Heart

  1. Loosehead Prop says:

    I need to send another photo of the first vine, which a day or so after this photo grew all the way to the top of the second floor.

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