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Pretty in (everything but) Pink


I’m not paranoid but it’s out to get me. It’s everywhere. It’s in my life, my dreams, my backyard, my garden. It is ubiquitous, relentless, abhorrent, insidious, formidable, unyielding, despotic and pitiless.

It is…it is….

It is pink…aaaaahhhhhh!

I cannot, for the life of me, understand the Oliver Goldsmith phrase “The very pink of perfection.” (Note that his surname belies his sentiment.)

For me, pink is the very opposite of perfection. Perhaps I was frightened by a demonic little pink sock in my cradle. Maybe I just looked in a mirror and saw a pink blob that horrified me. Or, I suppose, my fear and loathing of anything pink can be traced back to the early days of color television. For those of you unfortunate enough to have lived through that transition (think “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”), the early color television sets had a tendency to make everything appear, well, pink-ish. It’s possible that watching Lucille Ball with pink hair every week had something to do with my phobia.

No matter. I am nominally an adult and pink remains my nemesis. It follows me everywhere. I can’t tell you how many pairs of jockey shorts and athletic socks have come out of the wash pink. Can someone explain that to me? And how about when you close your eyes? What do you see? I don’t know about you but it seems kind of pink-y to me.

Speaking of “pink-y,” I ended up living in Chicago, city of pinkies and pinkie rings. You can’t tell me that’s purely a coincidence.

But the phenomenon is especially apparent in my garden. If your yard is anything like mine—not that I would wish it on you—every plant in it will eventually exhibit a stultifying pinkness. I can’t explain how or why that happens. It’s frightening. It’s unworldly.

Wait. Don’t even say it. Don’t even go into the “pH” argument. Yes, yes, yes, the soils in this area are alkaline (who was, by the way, my favorite player on the 1968 Detroit Tigers, but I digress). And yes, yes, yes, they cause blue hydrangeas to turn pink. Could you possibly bore me more?

I’m not talking about run of the mill pinkness, mon ami. I’m talking about surreal and absurd pinkness. In my yard, it doesn’t matter which genus, which species, which cultivar, which variety. I can purchase a plant that swears on its mother’s cloned tissue that it will be cobalt blue. By the time it reaches my yard, it has already begun to leak pigment. First, a kind of ultramarine thing happens, which is succeeded by a segue into a purple-y, violet-y wash. If I turn my back for a nanosecond, fuchsia sets in. At that point, it’s too late. It’s merely a matter of time before it rushes through the magenta phase into full blown, irreversible pink.

Thus, the color wheel for my garden is somewhat less than circular. It basically goes from green to pink and back again. More of a “color licorice whip” than “color wheel.” When I look out over my yard, I survey a sea

of green and pink. It’s unnerving.

Bulbs? Ha! Aren’t all lilies pink anyway? They are in my yard. Yes, I know what you’re going to say. “What about Easter lilies, huh?” By the way, it really irks me when you add the word “huh.” Well, have you ever watched what happens to an Easter lily, huh? About the day after Easter it starts to turn you-know-what. Just before everything turns brown and falls off of the stalk. Into your glass of Shiraz. It’s a conspiracy.

It got to the point where I could plant something that I thought was a yellow daffodil and by spring it would have mutated and bloomed as some pinkish abomination, just to taunt me.

Sensing that I was on the verge of some kind of apocalyptic threshold, I decided to capitulate to the Forces of Pinkness all around me. I went out and purchased a dianthus, otherwise known as a “pink.” Yup, that’s really its nickname.

It bloomed orange.

I’m tickled pink.

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questions

Now that bedding impatiens (I. walleriana) are not recommended because of impatiens downy mildew, what are three good annuals for shade?

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