The nice lady at the nursery assured me, “it’s impossible to kill an oleander.” I almost said, “wanna bet? Come by my house.” Instead, I just said “Maybe I can’t, but something sure is.”
When we moved into this house over 30 years ago, the oleander hedge between us and the neighbor was well-established and thriving. In summer it was covered with bright pink flowers; the rest of the year the leaves were dark green and glossy. It formed a pleasant demarcation. It seemed independent and content, and I was perfectly content to let it be. In fact, I never gave it a second thought and only occasionally dragged the hose across the driveway to water it. Then a couple of years ago I noticed withering leaves and bare, dead branches. Oops.
“So,” I said as I plopped a couple of smallish oleander bushes on the wagon, “how long do you think it’ll take these little guys to get big and start filling the gaps?”
Hmmm, Not good news. And after several months, they are still not much larger than when I bought them. Well, crumb, I don’t have another 30 years for them to grow up.
In the meantime, I had fallen in love with the vibrant, sprawling bougainvillea at the house across the street. The profusion of bright magenta flowers always lifted my heart. It almost glowed in the bright desert sun. And an idea was born — I could plant bougainvillea in front of the oleanders and the bougainvillea could climb up the dead and dying oleanders, disguising them and using them as a trellis at the same time. Yes! Great idea.
The weather is still cold, so the nursery has not yet received their shipment of the hot weather plants, but as long as I’m here, I might as well look around. Nothing makes me smile as much as wandering through a nursery.
Oh, look … they’re clearing out the pansies. 5 for $1. Pansies like cold weather — they’ll last another month or two. I grabbed 10, came right home and put them in the hanging baskets that had been vacant for years. Niiicce. In fact, they looked so good that I decided to go back a couple of days later and get some more. As it turned out, the nursery was happy to clear them out at 10 for $1. Great! I grabbed a couple of flats — mostly yellow because that was all that was left. It is my least favorite of the pansy colors, but they’d be cheerful and bright. As I was choosing the last of them, a large white one reached out to me.
“Please take me with you,” it begged.
“I already have 40 plants,” I told it. “I don’t have room.”
“Please! If you leave me here, I’ll die.” Which is how it ended up in the wagon with the other 40 plants. It waved at me this morning as I walked out the front door.
And soon the bougainvillea will be arriving. Bright yellow pansies, vibrant magenta bougainvillea — yeah, it’s gonna look great.
And the oleanders? Whadya wanna bet that once they see the competition, they’ll decide to start coming back. Stay tuned for updates.