Tags: Beauty, cardinal climber vine, flowering vines, garden plans, growing from seed, Lao Tzu, living by vision and not by sight, morning glories, Morning Glory Grandpa Ott, Morning Glory Heavenly Blue, organic gardening, paying attention, saving seed, seeing what's not there, time is a loop
“To see things in the seed, that is genius.”
— Lao Tzu
I must be an über-genius, then, because I can see twisting, 12-foot-tall cardinal climber vines covered with tropical-looking foliage and long scarlet trumpets — and even the bees and butterflies and the occasional hummingbird drinking from their glowing chalices — in the not-yet-formed seeds in this picture. And I can hear the buzz of the hummingbird’s wings as it zooms toward a bright blossom, and its little squeaking cry of fury as it spots another hummingbird visitor and rushes to defend against this tiny territorial threat.
In fact, if I allow myself to daydream without respect for deadlines and dishes needing washing, I can see a whole garden springing up next spring around these vines that would originate from seeds that are right now being made — they may never exist! — in those little bulbs where the flowers opened only a few days ago.
Do all those verb tenses in one sentence mess with your conception of time? Of course. Because in a garden, “time is a loop” becomes not some wise philosophical statement: that’s just how it is.
Truly, in the time it took me to write that last paragraph, I could envision several different garden “worlds” from the image. For instance, a Victory Garden with all heirloom veggies and flowers, sort of a showplace of yesteryear, and the cardinal climbers arrayed on a huge teepee in the center of a knot of old-fashioned herbs — well away from the tomato plants and sunflowers it kept wanting to sneak off and climb this year. The teepee would be made of dead branches lashed together, and if I placed it just right, could serve as a sort of sundial in the garden.
If I space the supports far enough from one another, my new neighbors’ five-year-old son might venture into the middle of the teepee and stand still in the middle of time, under a translucent, leafy canopy filled with dappled sunlight and cool green shadow. Maybe one day my own child might venture into the little sanctuary of a vine-covered teepee and be comforted by the sight of a daring, swirling tendril finding its own way… might even help me plant the seeds with tiny, beloved fingers.
Or the vines could become just one part of a butterfly, hummingbird, and bee extravaganza, grown on tall fencing to one side of the Victory Garden, and perhaps with a border nearby including a tall butterfly bush as a dramatic focal point and source of haunting, sweet scents. The vines could intermingle with other vines, such as scarlet runner beans, honeysuckle, trumpet vine, and several different morning glories.
Wouldn’t it be fun to plant the seed from that year’s planting and discover you’d bred some unintentional morning glory crosses from such a colorful, mixed planting the year before? I wonder whether you could mix ‘Heavenly Blue’ with ‘Grandpa Ott’s’, and what fascinating flowers might result.
Whoa. Not only am I seeing things in the seed. Now I’m seeing and hearing and smelling things in the seed, even two, three, ten years hence….
Maybe Lao Tzu meant seeing other kinds of things. It doesn’t seem to be an act of genius to envision the possibilities in a seed.
But it sure is fun.
What can you see in a seed?