Gardening Gestalt

What do brown sugar and parsley have to do with each other?

Here’s a little story…

Last fall found me deep in the final stretch of (almost) meeting my publisher’s deadline for my latest book manuscript. Hours and hours of writing, proofing, formatting and more writing were interrupted only by many, many, (many, many) trips to my neighborhood hardware store and various nurseries to secure materials, props and last minute details for all the projects I was crafting.

It being autumn, nursery shelves were stocked with boxes and boxes of dormant spring bulbs – which, of course, need to be planted in the fall.  I had ZERO time for additional garden chores — at that point, bathing was a luxury and it had been months since I’d actually prepared a home-cooked meal — but I figured I had 5 minutes to simply peruse new bulb varieties.  Sort of a horticultural hiatus from the chaos of deadlines.  That’s how I found Tulip ‘Brown Sugar’, a lovely long-legged beauty with elegant blossoms variously described as “carmine rose and apricot” or “dull red with dull orange“.

tulip brown sugar

A most welcome spring vision

Frankly, they had me at “brown sugar”.  Instantly I flashed on my very first school dance in the 7th grade when a boy – an 8th grader no less – asked me to boogie for the first time.  The song?  “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones…a favorite ever since.

Seventh grade was many, many, (many, many) years ago now.  My 13-year old self — the proverbial shy wallflower — had no idea what my future would bring: horticulture, publishing, boys, parenting… or anything else for that matter! I just tried to look “cool” and not step on his toes.

I couldn’t resist.  A big bag of those gorgeous bulbs followed me home.  A month later, my manuscript safely delivered, I found the bag of bulbs stashed in a corner of my chaotic office long after they should have been planted.  The bulbs were not quite as pert and promising as they were in September, but then neither am I these many years later.  I found an random empty pot and unceremoniously planted the bulbs with several parsley starts leftover from an herb garden project, slaying two birds with one very lame stone, as it were.  I promptly forgot all about them in a post-deadline foggy aftermath.

What a surprise this spring to discover not only the joy of cooking again – let alone bathing – but also the dramatic long dusky purple stems and perfect egg-shaped blooms of ‘Brown Sugar’ flourishing above a ruffled bed of grass-green parsley!!!  Nothing “dull” about this combo and one I would further describe as having delightful hints of sophisticated puce… a purplish brown color that’s much nicer to behold than it sounds.

tulip 'brown sugar'

Tulip 'Brown Sugar'

No, it’s not the fountain of youth, but the vision gives me a lift whenever I pass by the handsome pot which so beautifully (although completely inadvertently) echos the color of the long stems.  The past couple of months have been especially cold here in the Pacific Northwest.  While we may have escaped the epic storms the rest of the country dealt with all winter, I fear spring may elude us altogether.  Anything that makes me smile is a very good thing.

I’d like to think I’ve evolved since that long ago darkened gymnasium with a turntable blasting truly questionable lyrics at ear-splitting volume; even Mr. Jagger has been known to enlighten his libretto.  But I hope I never get over the love of a good tune and the ability to follow the many threads woven through my life in a garden.

Tags: , ,

3 Responses to “Gardening Gestalt”

  1. susan April 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Love the subtlety of color…not as garish as some.

  2. debra April 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    I love the name-game with this beautiful, sultry tulip!
    When I lived in LA, I interviewed Keith Zary, the top breeder for Jackson & Perkins roses. His wife, Debbie Zary, was J&P’s marketing director. They had a big his-hers battle going on about naming a terra cotta miniature rose. Keith wanted to call it “Cinnamon Girl,” after the Neil Young song (every guy’s dream song from the late 70s). Debbie pointed out that while men name roses, it is women who buy roses. She wanted to name the new introduction “Cinnamon Swirl,” since there was a creamy variegation on the petals. I never learned who prevailed in that dispute….I’ll have to find out and let you know.

  3. Lorene April 30, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    for what it’s worth…my vote goes with ‘Cinnamon Girl’. The evocative power of music (& youth!!!) wins out every time