Some of my favorite flowers had their start as tiny snips from another person's garden. Although I may not know the plant's name or growth pattern, something about its appearance makes me brave enough to ask a stranger for permission to take a cutting.
Occasionally, such uninformed decisions backfire.
That's what happened many years ago when I took a tiny snippet from a lovely blue-flowering morning-glory vine covering a towering pine on the outskirts of Howey-in-the-Hills. The fact that the tree's limbs were almost entirely concealed beneath this climbing beauty should have been sufficient warning, but I was young and impetuous. I loved the color — blue as a summer sky — and was determined to add it to my yard.
Add it, I did.
Two decades later, wild morning-glory vines continue to run rampant on our property. While still awed by the beautiful blue blooms, I'm long past believing I'll ever rid our property completely of the enchantingly insidious vine. Although they could be controlled with herbicide, we opt instead to limit the area where they can wrap their greedy tendrils around whatever ground, shrub or tree they encounter. Outside the designated area, it's a different story. The vines are subject to the mower's ruthless blades.
Despite my morning-glory fiasco and a few other less-than-positive found-plant experiences, my penchant for procuring free-for-the-taking plants remains strong.
About a year ago while attending a Garden Web plant exchange in Ocoee, I became enamored with a white-tipped green-leafed succulent cascading over the edge of the host's raised bed. After gaining permission to take a few snippets home, I proceeded to plant the cuttings in various locations around the yard, experimenting to see which would work best.
At first, little happened. The cuttings weren't dead but most weren't taking off like crazy either. Considering what happened with the morning glory, I didn't find lack of exuberant growth to be a bad thing. I waited patiently, occasionally checking on the plants' progress but in general gave the cuttings little attention. I didn't even bother to discover their identity.
A few weeks ago, while perusing the garden beds, pausing to pull a few weeds here and snap a few pictures there, I noticed that the cuttings rooted in the only container receiving regular irrigation was doing exceptionally well. Not only was this one plant growing faster than any of the others — by now it too cascaded over the edge of its container — it was the only one with a surprise. Tucked amongst the foliage was an abundance of reddish-pink, dime-sized flowers.
The unexpected blooms were the push I needed to find out what exactly I had planted.
I posted a picture of the flowering plant on Facebook and asked for identification help. My daughter Amber responded with a link to an article by Anne K Moore on the Garden Smart.tv site entitled, "Icy Plant For Summer's Heat."
The article described Dorotheanthus bellidiformis, also known as Livingston Daisy Mezoo Trailing Red and included an image that looked exactly like my plant. More research ensued and before long I became well informed about my botanical find. Daisy Mezoo Trailing Red is a variety of ice plant that works well as a groundcover, in rock gardens, hanging baskets or in mixed-plant containers. While drought tolerant, it also responds well to regular watering, is unbothered by pests or plant diseases and requires little care other than protection from extreme cold. From all I read, it doesn't have a tendency to become invasive, spreading out of control like my misbegotten morning glories.
I couldn't be happier with this discovery. Not only do found plants provide beauty and add variety to the garden, each cutting contains a memory of where it originated. When I walk around our property and come upon morning-glory vines enthusiastically engulfing an elderberry bush, the blue flowers remind me of my own youthful exuberance. For just a second, I'm back in Howey, clipping off a section of vine, filled with excitement to be bringing it home.
Likewise, as I walk around the house pausing to observe the latest growth on my pretty Daisy Mezoo succulents, I think back on that Garden Web plant exchange. Each attractive leaf and unexpected bloom reminds me of the generosity of gardeners. People who love plants not only like to share that love others with others, they enjoy sharing plants as well.
Sherry Boas can be reached at simplyliving@
beautifulbamboo.com. Her columns can be found online at OrlandoSentinel.com