I’ve been admiring the pretty, pink, pinwheel flowers of wood sorrel (oxalis crassipes var rosea) ever since arriving in Mississippi. You can hardly miss them.
They’re in the native plant garden at the Natural History Museum. They grow wild along the roadsides and peer out of small crevices in the pavements. In spring, they looked wonderful carpeting meadow lawns in the Belhaven Heights Historic District before the first mowing repressed them for the summer.
So what’s the connection with spare?
Gardeners who love passalong plants have a saying: the more of a plant someone wants to give you, the greater your need to think twice before accepting. Although I’ve read online that this plant will not spread rapidly, experience in my sweetheart’s garden suggests otherwise. Perhaps the soil was too rich or they were fertilised too well.
Whatever the reason, these spare ones (see the shamrock style leaves?) were rapidly smothering out a treasured collection of tried-and-trusted, heritage bulbs and choice new cultivars, so they had to go. It’s never easy to pull up flowering plants, but gardening is all about making choices.
With such an abundance of plant material, I salvaged some stems to find out if they could be used as dainty cut flowers. Together with a few sprigs of feathery foliage, they made an ethereal posy, but the first night, the blooms closed up as they would in the garden, which I had forgotten about. The slender stems looked frail in the darkness and I thought my experiment was over.
To my delight, the petals opened out to greet the sun the next day, and carried on flowering sequentially until the last buds had opened.