Passion flower patch doomed by mowing therapy

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2016

Passion flower  patch doomed by mowing therapy

By Rita Howell, News Editor
Did you see the photo of the purple flower on the front page? Now, some folks might just call that a weed, but the Swallowtail butterfly, the spider (look closely) and photographer John all admired it, as did I when I saw it. Out in our pasture at Eureka there is a similar plant from which I’d cut a stem which I placed in a vase in the kitchen. I don’t know what it is, but John has emailed a picture to gardening guru Felder Rushing to get the identity.
Fall wildflowers are show-stoppers, and none moreso than the purple passion flower. I think it’s the most beautiful flower. Passiflora incamata is the common one you see around here.
I will always think of a ballerina when I see one. When I was a child there was a vine near our house that bloomed in the late summer. Mama showed my sister and me how to pick the flower and twirl it around like a dancer doing a pirouette in a lacy purple skirt.
 She showed us how to pick off three of the five stamen so the dancer has two “arms.” The ballerina even has a three-pronged headpiece. Her lace skirt is made of purple and white filaments, perhaps up to a hundred in some varieties, I read. The strands are wavy as they unfold from the opening bloom, and are displayed atop ten white petals which form the underskirt.
The only passion flower I ever remember was the one that grew near our yard in Westmoreland Heights when I was growing up. I only remember one vine, with a few flowers each year.
Late last summer I discovered a virtual passion flower bower on the edge of a clearing in the hardwoods near our house. There were hundreds of blooms.  I couldn’t believe it. My photos did not do them justice. Every afternoon I would make Rupert go with me to look at them.
And they came back this year. Just as many, beautifully arrayed as their vines entwined with whatever bushes are growing there.
 I was thrilled.
And then Rupert bushhogged them.
That’s his therapy, clipping pastures and grooming trails.
He’d finally gotten a few days off from work and the tractor cranked, and, well, he couldn’t help himself.
Actually, there are some vines left along the edge where his blades couldn’t reach, and the seed pods, which make a pleasant popping sound when you step on them, will ensure next year’s crop.
But I was reminded of the time the Batesville City crews inexplicably began trimming crape myrtles at the 6-51 intersection just when the bushes were breaking out in the pink explosion of their full summertime glory.
“Noooooooooooooooo,” came the anguished cry of the members of the Batesville Garden Club as they encountered the naked branches, and subsequently wrote a blistering letter to the editor.
Clay Jones, our intrepid cartoonist at the time, could not resist taking pen in hand and rendering a group of those worthy matrons protesting the city’s heavy handed pruning.
“Butcherrrrr!” the cartoon Garden Club lady yelled at the city worker on our editorial page in the next issue.
(Clay Jones has gone on to bigger and better things. He is a syndicated editorial cartoonist whose work appears in publications all over the country, including The Panolian. Jones lives in Virginia.)

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