Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Let go of your INHIBITIONS . . .

This photo represents a thousand words of a fascinating story. A story of Inhibitions, Ultimate Patience, The Right Moment, and Grand Scheme.  
(Where are we?? Some kind of hedonistic S&M plant dungeon?) 

No.  No leather, no whips.  We are talking hormones and chemicals.
(Okay, now its getting REALLY weird)

Carly Simon had it right, but she didn't know she was singin' a tune about botany.

Let me drag you out of the dark recesses of my brain and back into the light. The photo that heads this post was taken in front of my home. Last spring I dragged home a HUGE Platanus occidentalis American sycamore branch that had been cut down from one of the properties that I work on.  I thought, Hey, let me lean this up against my chimney as a vertical element and grow some cool vines on it. The bark is just so incredible, especially againt the tall white chimney.
The previous fall, I planted the darkest lily known to man, Lilium 'Landini' as a contrast against the white, white chimney.  So  late last spring, at the base of the branch, I threw in some pre-soaked sweet pea seeds.  They grew, but didn't really deliver.  So even later,  I pushed into the soil the pink and black mottled skins of the scarlet runner bean, a giveaway from my friend Carlo Balistrieri. Alas, nothing. 

UNTIL!  The Great Awakening!  
(Remember all that jazz about Inhibitions, Ultimate Patience, Right Moments, and Grand Schemes?? Here is where it may make a bit more sense . . . )

What have I noticed, just now, snaking its way up the sycamore branch? Those loooong forgotten scarlet runner beans that I sowed LAST year! Mysterious. Odd. Why now?
Inhibitions, or more scientifically, inhibitors.  Plants have the most uncanny way of sensing The Right Moment. While waiting for the right light, temperature, and moisture level a seed can exercise Ultimate Patience. Be it a week, to sufficiently imbibe enough moisture from the surrounding media to trigger seed germination, or a year, until the soil temperature is cool enough for a particular seed to open up, that seed will waaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttt.   It is all a part of the Grand Scheme of things that guides the sublime tempo that nature keeps.

Many of us know the story of how the giant sequoia trees release the seeds from their cones. The cones "wait" months, years, whatever it takes, until a forest fire rips through the area.  The heat will then trigger the cone to open its scales and the seed is then dispersed.  The forest fire, and subsequent dispersal of the sequoia seed, is an essential part of maintaining healthy and growing forest ecosystems in the Pacific northwest.  Without the fire, no new sequoia seeds. Grand Scheme intact and perfectly functioning.

Even the diminutive sweet pea has an inhibitor that I attempted to break.  I mentioned before that I "pre-soaked" those seeds.  That was to speed up the germination process (many, many seeds benefit from this treatment).  That seed will not begin to grow until it is sufficiently swelled with water.

Now, the mystery of the scarlet runner bean (Nancy Drew #147).  Another germination inhibitor is soil temperature.  My contention is that when I pushed those seeds into the ground last summer, the soil was simply too warm to initiate germination! But since those seeds were not removed, spent winter outside, and warmed with the early spring soil, that Right Moment occured that woke up the little life that slept inside.   

Deviant references aside, that is just mind-blowing.  


  1. Rope! those are wild looking Lilium E! Great contrast with the beans, cool story too. Keep it up!!!!!!!!!

  2. hey erika ..love your blog... and love the name. i never knew about the Sequoia seeds..thats so cool it is really amazing how everything works .... and that lily is gorgeous.

  3. I just got yesterday Landini from a mailorder nursery :) When I was looking pics of Landini, I've found my way here in your blog!

    Greetings from Finland,