Expected surprises

a mountain of nasturium and the pole bean house in vegetable gardenI’ve always wondered a little at the seeming redundancy of the phrase “unexpected surprise”. But I think I get it now. I came back from vacation fully anticipating certain changes and was still caught off guard.

Even though the rain held off until my return, I knew that (unlike at home) the gardens here would grow and flourish on a carefully monitored watering schedule. One shocker in particular was in the Display Garden. castor bean, angelica, and sanguisorba in the Display GardenThe castor bean ‘Pretty Purple’, which is not only supposed to be a dwarf variety but was cut back last month, towers a good two feet over my head now. It takes my breath away (not literally of course – though it would if I tasted it.)

green-striped cushaw (Cucurbita mixta)Another unexpected-expected surprise was the green-striped cushaw squash (Cucurbita mixta) in the vegetable garden. I knew we were growing a special squash… but, not knowing which one it was, I had no idea that it would be such a beauty. I have just learned that it typically grows in southern gardens and must be loving our tropical summer. I also had no idea that it is the one with a reputation for making extra super delicious pumpkin pie. – I expect to be surprised by the truth of that sometime around Thanksgiving…

I knew that a sculpture exhibit would be installed while I was away. Last week local artist, Paulette Carr placed several site-specific sculptures on the property for a show she entitled Vestiges: Traces of the Past. Gardeners are perhaps more tuned in than most to how the introduction of a new element – whether it’s a plant or an object – can dramatically change the perspective, mood and view of a space. It’s something we probably think about all the time without even being aware of it – and maybe for that reason the shift in perspective (mood, view) can come as a big surprise. My photos from this morning don’t do it justice – come experience Vestiges for yourself if you can before it comes down (the exhibit runs from now through October 2) and see how it surprises you.

Vestiges by Paulette Carr, in the Rock GardenVestiges by Paulette Carr, in the nut grove

Fill me in – what surprises have been growing in your garden lately?