As my son-in-law once said about my daughter’s cooking abilities after they married – “This is a bonus!” He was as clueless to that perk as I was to what would become a pinnacle experience in our side yard. Spectacular shrubs are definitely enchanted.
We moved into said house on a hot summer day in 1987. How hot? Hot enough to need some pot holders to turn the steering wheel, so I’m sure I never gave the shrub that draped the basement door a second glance. Still later, after a get-to-know the household tour, I noticed that this particular greenery created quite the dramatic flourish when entering the room that housed lawn equipment and such.
No surprise that this part of the yard got the royal treatment. Home owner and beloved local florist Doug White built the house in 1950 and selected every green specimen with flair and purpose. God love him; he must have envisioned a future when people would swoon as they pulled to the back of the house. Today the mature plant(s) arches over our driveway and doles out mercy to those arriving at 1070.
This year as I awaited the budding of the brilliant April/May bloomer – we call her Fuzzy – I noted that my life would not have been as glamorous or as intellectually valid without her help. Officially she is a Fuzzy Deutiza, but I’ve always hesitated to bring a plant down with its scientific name. I know it’s only human to categorize and compare; still Fuzzy is too unique to be relegated to a line in the encyclopedic universe of botany.
Not unlike bird watchers, we begin our steady observation of her sometime in early April. Small talk to be sure: “I believe she is even more robust this year. – Look at those nests! – What day did she bloom last year? – Should we move the cars not to ruffle her blossoms?”
Fuzzy is much more celebratory than variety predictions. She graces about 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide. She has the pedigree to substantiate her power. I’ve been advised by Doug White Jr. that she had early proper care and feeding by his father who provided his son with a stick by which the family cocker spaniel Taffy’s poop was retrieved. Nothing less than full circle farming for the resident florist.
Doug White’s son remembers several fuzzies being brought home in quart buckets to be positioned in that special spot. Don’t I wish that I could interview the father about Fuzzy(ies)… or the nandinas, the crepe myrtles, the butterfly bush, the English hollies, the boxwoods, the stone walls, the scentless mock orange, the roses that all still survive on this one acre lot some 70 years later. (shouldn’t realtors reconsider the value of a mature yard?)
No doubt Doug Sr. foresaw the long and elegant branches that are rimmed with scalloped white flowers and the trunk as an ever-peeling piece of modern art with grafts of slender bark in varying shades of cafe au lait.
I’d tell him about the annual invitations that I’ve extended toward friends to meet Fuzzy. Each was reminded to take home cuttings as party favors for garden club, weddings and a funeral.
Fuzzy is generous I’d say. But then so was Mr. White.
Believe me when I tell you that while ideal weather presents itself, I unfold my chair and take in her spectacle. It is as worthy as any outdoor musical concert I have ever struggled to attend.
Tonight you can bet that I’ll be raising a glass of merlot to Doug White’s vision. To be sure Fuzzy’s limbs will flutter in the breeze as a reminder to go with the flow. Being the sophisticated vegetation that she is – she will be singing “You will survive.”