|Our remaining topiaries—trimmed, rinsed, |
and sprayed, and (I hope) ready to be brought
indoors for the winter...
But, being the optimist that I am, I never seem to figure out that buying yet another topiary (which for me actually means buying at least two of them at a time, since they look best in pairs) will lead to the inevitable death of said plant. For under my care death is what their fate will most assuredly be, despite my best efforts otherwise. I've killed countless dozens of them over the years.
This spring, at the Trade Secrets garden show held annually in Sharon, Connecticut, (founded by the inestimable Bunny Williams) I bought half a dozen new pots of topiaries from Atlock Farm, one of the vendors showing there, to replace the topiaries I'd murdered over the previous winter. I did so with the newfound understanding that my approach to owning and caring for topiaries had theretofore been flawed. In the past I had erroneously thought that I could keep them alive for months (if not years) with careful and loving treatment. I had also considered that my inability to do so was, well, a failure on my part. Not so, one wise reader, named Flo, advised me—I was in good company because it is virtually impossible for mere mortals such as Reggie to keep such tender lovelies alive over the winter in a northeastern house, particularly one such as Darlington House that is lived in only on weekends and where there is no temperature- and humidity-regulated greenhouse for the topiaries to vacation. Just think of a topiary, she wrote, as an expensive potted plant that has a limited life span, and enjoy it as such.
Such freedom! I now understood that my topiaries' withering was as inevitable as the tides rolling in and out, something entirely beyond my control. That is, unless I were Bunny Mellon, famous for—among other things—an extensive collection of perfectly cared-for topiaries, acres of greenhouses, and armies of gardeners charged with ensuring said topiaries' long life. As I've pointed out here before, I am, most assuredly, not Mrs. Paul Mellon.
Of the half dozen topiaries I bought at the Trade Secrets show this spring, four remain with us, having survived a summer of mostly benign neglect on our screened porch at Darlington House. I am showing them, ahead of our bringing them indoors for the winter, pruned (by Boy) of their late-summer shagginess and returned to their desired, perfectly coiffed profiles. They are resting behind our gardening barn in the shade, after having been rinsed and sprayed, awaiting their transfer into the house.
Even though I know there is scant hope that these topiaries will survive until spring under my care, I still hope and wish that they will, despite the odds stacked against me. I just can't help myself. I'm a tender-hearted optimist when it comes to such things.
And that is why there will always be a demand for nurseries and plantsmen to bring fresh batches of topiaries to market every spring—because of cockeyed optimists like Reggie who, when confronted by a new topiary deludes himself into believing that he might be able to, this time, nurture it from one year to the next.
And because I am aware that such optimism is foolishness on my part, I know that I will return to the Trade Secrets show next spring to, once again, replenish my stock of topiaries, continuing the never-ending cycle . . .