We started with jasmine but eventually the trellises began to rust out and had to be removed. So we turned instead to crepe myrtles which were absolutely lovely…until the wicked westward exposure to the sun overtook them, their valiant efforts to weather the withering notwithstanding.
But then while walking through the nursery recently we came across a tropical perennial that can tolerate any number of soil conditions and should be planted in full sun. Easily recognized by their lightly scented and trumpet-shaped yellow flowers, their cheery color attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies. And despite its pollen being considered toxic, the plant has been used over the years for medicinal purposes and some have even made a beer from its roots, though we would not be the ones to ask if it is any good.
The nursery manager warned us, of course, that planting an ornamental at this time of year is not exactly optimal, especially one that typically blooms from spring through fall. But on the other hand, sometimes the seasons deceive us. For as Natalie Sleeth’s lovely “Hymn of Promise” reminds us, even in the “cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be.”
The start of Advent brings us to just such a season. Indeed, in what St. Paul called “the fullness of time” when the world was yet at its darkest, then came the Light. And in this oddest of all years, perhaps the gift of this upcoming Christmas may be all the better just because of the long wait for good news we’ve all been experiencing since the pandemic began. Until that day, then, our calling is simply to continue to have hope and trust that the Lord is still in charge of this world.
We planted two of those bushes by our west wall and so far they are not only doing well in their new environs, but they continue to bloom. Formally, they are known as tecoma stans, but they answer to many other names, as well, including yellow bells and hardy yellow trumpets. The nursery called them gold star esperanzas, however, and that’s part of why we bought them. For in Spanish, of course, “esperanza” means simply “hope” or “expectation.”
And could it be that Advent is a season for planting hope in our hearts as well?