When my gardening neighbor planted the vines on the other side of the trellis shared by our patios, I was delighted. The quickly climbing green leaves made no distinction between thine and mine. They clambered through the lattice to my side as eagerly as they climbed on hers, softening the hard white plastic, and bringing an unaccustomed anticipation of flowers for this non-achieving gardener.
“Are they morning glories?” I asked in a hushed voice. (I ADORE morning glories.)
“Yes,” she said. “But I bought them at a farm stand — I usually grow them from seed — and I don’t know what color they’re going to be.”
“Oh, I hope they’re blue!” we exclaimed in unison.
Blue morning glories are the very color of heaven. The color of the sky on a perfect unclouded day, limpid and pure, the essence of blue. Oh yes, I hope they’re blue.
The vines grew and flourished and rambled and twined.
Buddha overseeing vines —
And grew and flourished and twined some more, until they were so luxuriant they began to look like they would engulf both patios! But there were no flowers, blue or otherwise. It seemed as if our vine was like a disappointing baseball prodigy, all field, no hit.
The days passed. And more days. Weeks. Still vines only, no flowers. The sands dwindled swifter through summer’s hourglass. Still no flowers. We looked at each other, my neighbor and I.
“Do you think they’ll make it before the first frost?”
“I don’t know. I hope so!” she said.
It was weeks now since the vines had begun their Jack-and-the-Beanstalk act, and still no flowers, not blue or pink or even, heaven help us, white!
Then, at last, with October and the first frost nearing, this greeted me early one morning:
Blue, by heaven, blue!
Blue! By heaven, blue! Even if it’s only one. The next day:
Only in the nick of time, it turns out. The vine leaves are already turning to autumn yellow:
It had come through. But why all this angst and delay? If I had planted the vine, black thumb that I have, it wouldn’t even have made it to the green twining stage. But my neighbor is a skilled gardener. She was unhappy. She asked questions, and made a discovery.
Turns out that morning glories come, not only in more than a single color, but more than a single blooming habit. This variety was a late bloomer, a “hairy stem” or something exotic like that. Not a variety to be planted in New England, where frost comes early and hard. But true to the stubborn nature of New Englanders, it had come through. At the last gasp, yes. But it had come through.
We now had our own name for our shared plant. It would officially be (at least to us) the Last Gasp Morning Glory.