Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

February 3, 2004 > SO MANY SEEDS!


by Pat Kite

My garden catalogues arrived in the midst of this on/off miserable weather. Having a slight insanity about plants, and not able to do anything constructive in my yard's soggy clay, I began ordering a little of this, a little of that. As a result, I now have the following seed packets in cupboard limbo: Outhouse Hollyhocks, Angel's Choir Poppy, Phacelia Lavender Lass, Black Peony Poppy, Saphire Lobelia, Unique Impatiens, Moss Rose, Sugar 'n' Spice Sweet Pea, California Poppy Mixture, Transformer Nigella orientalis, Freckles Viola, Asarina, Viola Penny Sunrise, Busy Lizzie, Cascading Regatta Blue Splash Lobelia, Créme de Cassis Hollyhock, Globe Amaranth, and Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory.

If all of them actually sprouted and grew, I wouldn't even be able to slither through my already overcrowded garden. However, given my success rate of about one percent maximum, I am safe with my dream-seed packets, anticipating beauty beyond belief. For example: morning glories. Some of my co-workers say they get a plethora of self-seeding morning glories year after year. Perhaps they say that to make me jealous. I have planted morning glory seed capsules for several years. This year, in mid-winter, I actually got one vine in my entranceway, meandering up a calla. I don't even remember putting any morning glory seeds there, but it appeared nonetheless. This straggly lonesome vine made me so happy. It really did.

Inspired, I ordered Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory from Seed Savers Exchange. This variety, according to the packet, originated in Bavaria. They were brought to this country along with long-ago immigrants. Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory is described as a "beautiful small deep-purple flower with a red star in its throat." Who could resist?

I searched quite a bit to find a fable about morning glories for you. This one comes from Japan. It seems, long before the world as we know it began, there lived, in high heaven, a Sun Goddess. She spent her days contentedly weaving clothes for her children. Unfortunately, she had a mischievous brother who kept pestering her. The day he dropped a horse through the roof of her bamboo pavilion, she got so angry, she closed herself within a deep cave and refused to come out.

Without the sun, the world was in perpetual twilight. Everybody was miserable. The Thought-Combination god was called upon to use his wits. Eventually, after some trial and error, he put a 100-branched tree in front of the closed cave. He put colored streamers on the tree, and a wonderful necklace with 500 many-colored jewels. The jewels were placed to reflect the sun's first rays. He then put a huge mirror in front of the cave. All was now ready.

A Heaven-Startling goddess began dancing on a hollow wooden bowl. Then 800 miscellaneous gods began laughing as hard as they could. The Sun Goddess was curious. How could anybody be happy if she wasn't there? So she peeked out of her cave. "Go away," said the laughing gods. "We don't need you anymore. We have her," they said, pointing to the Sun Goddesses reflection in the mirror.

The Sun Goddess was fascinated. Her reflection shone with the light from 500 jewels. Out she came, consumed by curiosity. The Strong-arm god quickly grabbed her, and her hiding place was quickly sealed.

The 800 miscellaneous gods were so happy they shouted and made a tremendous noise. It was so loud, that the high heaven rocked, and down came the jewel-hung tree. The 500 brightly colored jewels scattered, and were buried in the earth. The following spring, each jewel emerged as a brightly colored morning glory. So this "how they began" fable goes.

Place morning glory seed outdoors after the last frost. For faster germination, seeds can be notched with a file, then soaked a few hours in warm water before planting. Each seed goes in 1/2-inch deep. [As a note, even though good-sized, morning glory seed-capsules are not for kiddy handling. Some texts state that some kinds of morning glory seed-snacking can make people sick.

Site seeds in a sunny spot, keeping soil slightly moist until vines are well started. Then some drought is tolerable. Germination time is about one to three weeks. Expect vines to reach about 15 feet, so give them something to hang onto. Colors available include white, pink, red, violet, blue and bi-colored. Place where you get a good morning view. I, as ever, am optimistic. Been gardening for a long time, and am still optimistic. As you are. Isn't it fun!

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