- David Mitchell Cloud Atlas
I stand on my porch and watch, waiting, partially hidden. Cars speed by, eyes forward, hands gripping the wheel. They rarely slow as they near the turn and seem blind to the cascade of blue tumbling down the porch column and into the hollies. I imagine they see my garden as I see sports statistics, a confusing array of digits betrayed into a meaningless blob by the angles and lines that form the numbers.
I did not have to let the clematis grow. It would have been easier to rip it from the hard soil and simply let the shrubs fill the space. The pocket of soil between the porch and walkway is heavy and dry, the soil rolling into a ball before crumbling at the edges. Rich with foliage every spring, the vine hung like kindling by summer, so many small twigs and desiccated leaves to remind me of my folly. Water poured at its base ran in rivulets towards the hollies and onto the walkway, if it was even poured at all and I began to wonder why I refused to let it die. Its beauty was that of youth, ephemeral and seductive, but quickly turned hard, like a bitter wife with nothing to offer.
It was a small thing to build the compost dam that held the water and to tell myself that the effort wouldn't be wasted. Supple green shoots shot from the base, twining around the older canes and onto the support netting. It was an even smaller thought to add the soaker hose, a quick bing in the daily chorus that occupies my brain.
A car slows briefly and I see the drivers gaze stop at the clematis. I want to knock on her window and explain that my garden is a gift of beauty, requiring nothing more than a glance, but I don't. I stand frozen, watching as she drives away. It would have been easy to dig up the clematis, heave it into the trash with my other plant failures, and ignore my role in its death. I do not owe my neighborhood flowers but it is all I can offer.
Clematis grow best in moist, rich soil with morning sun and afternoon shade. These pictures make the flowers look purple because of the lighting, but they are actually a very intense blue. A mason bee house is hung above the clematis. Mason bees are stingless native bees that can pollinate more plants than honey bees.