Friday, August 7, 2015

I'm here, but here is not where it used to be. Buradayim fakat burası, eskiden olduğu yerde değil.

If anyone has been checking in to my blog to see if there is anything new and wondering why there isn't (not that I haven't had lapses here and there), it's because I'm no longer living in Istanbul. It was the result of several factors, including an aging mother that I'd like to be able to visit more often, as well as changing - though not insurmountable - residence laws. And in the background of my mind there has been a desire for a change, to be back in the States for a while and enjoy the communities there. The political situation in the region had less to do with it as I rarely felt any direct threat from it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned, especially for friends who live in Turkey's southeast.

Community means different things in different places. In Turkey it can usually be defined in terms of city/region of residence or origin, and religion. In the U.S. it can be those things, though it seems to be less and less related to where we live and more a matter of the people we choose to spend our time with. That's the kind of community I was missing, especially gardening and music communities, in which people with a passion for something share and support each other, and enjoy their passions together.

So on October 1 of last year, I arrived back in Seattle after fourteen years away. I had made several visits while in Istanbul, but it's one thing to visit a city for a week or so and hang out with your friends, and quite another to come back, navigate its changed social and economic realities, and make a new start. The details of that new start aren't really relevant to this blog, but suffice it to say that I have found a place where I can garden. It may not be a long-term garden but planting things, watching them grow, and being able to share with people with the same addiction to green things is wonderful! I'm not psychic but I do have a distinct feeling that gardening is going to have an even more important place in my life.

And what of Turkey? Well, you don't live in a place for 14 years and then forget it, much less when that place is Istanbul. Anyone who has spent any time there will know exactly what I'm talking about. as one writer said (and I wish I could remember her name to credit her): "You love it, and you hate it, and you feel alive."

Actually, I have already been back. I flew to Istanbul on July 4 to join Panayoti Kelaidis, Outreach Director of the Denver Botanic Garden, along with Lefteris  Dariotis, a plant biologist who runs a seed business from Greece, and Erik Hsu, Plant Information Coordinator at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, on a trip up Uludağ near Bursa. An unexpected bonus was a trip to Kazdağı,  the ancient Mt. Ida. Both were fascinating, quite different from each other, and home to many endemic species. There will be a post about that trip soon. Afterwards I stayed at the same house I lived in for the last seven years or so. All I can really say about that is that it's incredible what can happen to a garden in nine months without care, and it's not good. Maybe I'll share those photos later, but now I'd like to keep the mood positive!

Blogumu arada bir yeni gönderiler için kontrol edip, neden olmadığını merak eden varsa, sebebi şu: Artık İstanbul'da yaşamıyorum. İstanbul'dan ayrılma kararı, hem yaşlanan ve daha çok sıklıkla ziyaret edebilmek istediğim annem, hem de aşılmaz olmayan fakat değişen yabancılara yönelik ikamet yasaları. Ayrıca herşeyin arkasında, bir süre Amerika'da kalıp buradaki toplumlarının tadını çıkarmak istediğim de yatıyordu. Bölgedeki siyasi durumun daha az alakası vardı çünkü hiçbir zaman doğrudan bir tehdit hissemedim fakat özellikle Doğu'da yaşayan arkadaşlar için bazen endişelenmediğimi desem yalan olur.

"Toplum" kavramının, değiş yerlerde değişik anlamları oluyor. Bir genellemeye kaçsam kusura bakmayın fakat kaçacağım işte: Türkiye'de genelde memleket, ikamet edilen yer ve din kavramlarıyla tanımlanabilir.  Amerika'da da o unsurlardan oluşabilir ancak yaşadığımız yerle alakası gittikçe azaldığı, zamanımızı kimlerle geçirmeye karar verdiğimizle artıyormuş gibi geliyor. İşte o tür toplumu özlüyordum, özellikle insanların ortak bir tutku paylaşıp birbirine destek verdiği bahçivanlık ve müzik toplumlarını. 

Dolayısıyla geçtiğimiz yılın Ekim ayında, ondört yıl dışarıda yaşadıktan sonra Seattle'a döndüm.  Türkiye'de yaşarken birçok ziyaret etmiştim tabii fakat bir şehri ziyaret edip arkadalşarla takılmak başka, geri dönüp değişen toplumsal ve ekonomik gerçeklikleriyle uğraşığ yeniden başlamak, bambaşka birşeydir. O yeni başlangıcın detayları, bu blogla pek alakadar değil, yeter ki bir bahçe kurabileceğim yerde buldum. Çok uzun süreli bir bahçe olmayabilir de, bitileri ekip büyümelerini izlemek, ayrı bağımlılğa sahip olan arkadaşlarla da paylaşabilmek, harika birşey. Kahin değilim fakat bahçivanlığın, bundan böyle hayatımda daha da önemli bir rolü olacağını güçlü bir şekilde hissediyorum.

Peki ya Türkiye? Bir yerde ondört yıl yaşanıp unutulmaz, hele hele İstanbul'da; orada az zaman bile geçirenler bile demeye çalıştığımı mutlaka anlar. İsmini maalesef hatırlayamadığım bir yazar yazdığı gibi: "Hem seviyorsun, hem de nefret ediyorsun, ve yaşadığını hissediyorsun."

Zaten döndüm aslında. 4 Temmuzda Denver Botanik Bahçesi'nin Uzanma Müdürü olan Panayoti Kelaidis, Atina'lı tohumculuk sahibi ve bitki biyologu olan Lefteris Dariotis ile Wayne, Pennsylvania'daki Chanticleer Gardens'in Bitki Bilgiler Koordinatörü Erik Hsu ile beraber Uludağ'a çıkmak için İstanbul'a geldim. Kazdağına bir yan yolculuğu ise beklenmeyen bir haz oldu. İkisi hem son derece ilginçti hem de değişen iklim koşulları itibariyle birbirinden çok farklıydı. O yolculukla ilgili bir yazı olacak. İstanbul'a döndükten sonra son yedi yıl boyunca kaldığım evde kalıp eski bahçemi gördim. Bakmazsan dağ olur derler ya... O fotoğrafları belki daha sonra paylaşırım fakat şimdilik daha olumlu şeyler için yazalım!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


These came up in my garden on their own, probably as seed. Originally one plant,  they've become a nice little clump.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Post? What the Hell?

Yeah, it's been a long time. No need to go into details, but circumstances over the last year or so were not really conducive to gardening, much less blogging about it. I barely kept up with the flower garden, and as I had to be out of the country during prep/planting time last spring, there was very little in the way of vegetable gardening either. Now I've started digging out, and in addition to updates on what was there before, there are also some new developments.

I'm very glad to have chosen lots of very tough plants. Still, desert training perennials doesn't make for a stunning garden, unless they are cactus and succulents. (My cacti and succulents have done famously by the way!) But when the fall rains - skimpy as  they've been - began this year, I was pleased to see that some old friends I thought I'd lost have returned. Top on the list is the Zauschneria californica. Even in the odd mixture that passes for "soil" in the upper garden, it seems to be in for the long haul.

One pleasant surprise this winter was a nice bloom on a Helleborus x orientalis from seed sent by a friend back in Seattle. It's  no surprise that this plant should do well here; the original species is native to the area. However, you won't see any rich pinks or yellows out in the wild; they're a very unassuming shade of green. Interestingly I also got one shoot on the plant that produced pure white flowers. At least I think it's the same plant; I don't think there was a second seed in there!

Most Iris are pretty hard to kill, so not much trouble there. The Pacific Coast Iris are looking great as ever. The Epimediums...well, they've survived, but could have done with some more attention. The Cretan iris (Iris unguicularis) has just exploded, much to the delight of the tiny slugs for whom an almost-opened iris bud is a delicacy. Still, a few blooms do manage to open before they get munched.

One thing I did find time for before taking off to the US last spring was to try my hand at layering Clematis. Clematis are somewhat notorious for being picky rooters from cuttings - you have to get them at just the right time, and if you miss it, it's no dice. Some are harder than others as well. But layering is nice because you put the stem to layer underground and when it's ready to root, it's already in the ideal environment. What I did was to choose two fresh stems coming up from the rootstock last spring, and train them downward so I wouldn't accidentally break them later. Then when they were long enough, I buried a node of each one under an inch or so of soil and placed a brick on top of that. The brick serves a dual purpose: It keeps the stem from coming up (which put an abrupt end to the previous year's attempt) and also shades the stem, maintaining a cool slightly moist environment. The variety in question is "Betty Corning."

And then I forgot about them.

And then as I was cleaning out the garden ("digging out" wouldn't be too inaccurate) I remembered them. In this case, neglect proved to be a good thing. One is definitely rooted, though I'm not sure whether the pale shoot visible near it is from it or if it's a seedling of something else. Better not to disturb it finding out. But the second one is not only rooted but sending up a great, thick shoot! I'll be vigilant about snails and especially cutworms, then see if I can pot them up while they're still actively growing.

Actually, I did have one vegetable success last year as well. While in Virginia, I was at a party and got to taste several interesting kinds of peppers. One that really made an impression was an unusual one called "Lemon Drop." The peppers are  narrow and symmetrical, with a distinctive ridge down the middle, visible in the pepper at the bottom of the photo. The peppers stayed in the starter pots way too long, but when I got back I potted three of them up in a large pot. They took a bit of time to recover but then took off. The flowering came late and though they set a lot of peppers, none were ripe when I had to go back to the U.S. in the autumn. But when I got back there were lots of ripe ones, and the green ones ripened within a couple of days after picking.
The name refers to the pepper's unique citrus-like flavor. They're also very hot but one sliced up into an omelet gives a lot of flavor in proportion to the heat. The extra added bonus is that these are perennials. I brought the pot in and it's been overwintering in the kitchen with no problems except a bout of aphids, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop this summer! In Virgina, the friends had made theirs into pepper jelly, and I had just enough for a good batch, so that's what I did with them. Definitely try this pepper! (In the interest of disclosure, the habaneros are not from my garden; they're from a Safeway in Seattle!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Signs of Spring / Baharın Habercileri

Every place has its special signs of spring. Back in Iowa, it was the first robins, even though they don't all migrate. Here, it's the first swallows, returning from their winter vacations in Africa.

In my neighborhood, we have another, more human sign of spring: Rom (Gypsies) who come to collect snails. Having multiplied and grown throughout the winter, they appear in droves underneath the thick spring mat of chickweed and creeping Veronica, as well as in thick clusters anywhere they can find a bit of moisture and shade. And they are ravenous, able to reduce a clump of emerging iris to shredded stubs in a night.

The women can gather a couple of buckets of them from our garden; less than in the past when there was a larger lower level full of fruit trees. That has now been turned into a gravel parking lot...

People don't eat snails here as a rule. They collect them to sell to cosmetics companies, who make skin-rejuvenating creams from their slime. Last time I asked, they were getting around a lira a kilo, not much money in a city like Istanbul. These aren't local Rom by the way, they all seem to come from around the town of Adapazarı a few hours east of here. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another Winter Surprise - Bir Kış Sürprizi Daha

In late 1982, my mother moved from Iowa, where she had lived since 1960, to the small community of Fairfield Bay in northern Arkansas. She'd always loved gardens and plants but until moving to Arkansas, had had only a passing interest in wild flowers. But there, living in the middle of oak-hickory forest that extended as far as the eye could see in every direction, she started paying attention to what was growing around her. I was taking a plant taxonomy class at the time and had learned to recognize basic plant families, and she got interested too. So I gave a copy of my class syllabus, and it wasn't long before she not only left me trailing in the dust, but became a local expert that botany professors from nearby universities contact when they're looking for a population of such-and-such. She also fought tooth-and-nail to have a local glade full of rare species protected from development and dumping.

So what does this have to do with the subject of this post? Not much really, but who can pass up a chance to brag about their mother? But it does have to do with her curiosity!

Mom's an early riser, which does have to do with the subject. On a winter morning several years ago (she can tell me exactly how many in the comments) she looked out back window onto the natural landscape interrupted only by some branches, strategically placed in order to keep visitors from trampling choice plants. The back yard was covered with white blobs. Figuring an animal had gotten into a garbage can and allowed chunks of styrofoam to blow through the woods, she headed out to clean up the mess. But when she reached down to pick up the first piece, she came up with a handful of ice. Looking around, she realized that all these chunks of styrofoam were made of ice, and had formed on the bases of the dead stems of certain plants.

Some research revealed that they're known as frost flowers, and in her area, they form mainly on the stems of two local plants: Verbesina virginica (white crownbeard or frostweed) and Cunila origanoides, aka dittany. There are other plants also known to produce ice ribbons like this, including Helianthemum canadense and Pluchea odorata. Mom has also seen them growing on Vernonia, aka ironweed. For that matter, they don't only form on plants; under the right conditions they can form on wood or even pieces of metal where there's some water inside. Different plants and materials produce different forms; the dittany makes curly whorls with sometimes amazingly intricate shapes, while the frostweed tends to form ridges, wider at the bottom of the stem and tapering higher up. When they form wood as is more common in Europe, it's sometimes known as hair ice (or in Dutch, haareis).

So mom being mom, she doesn't do anything halfway! So she started documenting them, going out every morning the temperature dipped before zero to photograph the new crop of frost flowers. Now she has one of the largest collections of frost flower photos that I'm aware of. She also pampers these plants in her yard so that they'll grow and multiply.

If you want to see frost flowers, there are a few requirements. 1) You need to live in an area where the temperature dips below freezing at night but above during the day, so the water can seep into the stems of plants. 2) You need to have some of the right plants, and 3) You need to get up early! As soon as the sun starts hitting these very temporary creations, they crumble and melt back into the soil. Ever since I decided to write this post, I've been waiting for a good frost to take a walk around the garden and through the open areas on the hills above my house. The cold weather finally came, but with an inch or two of snow, so if any frost flowers did form, I'll never know about it! I'll be watching the weather reports though. If any readers outside the US (or within for that matter) have seen frost flowers, I'm sure my mom would love to hear about it, and see photographic evidence!

A few links on frost flowers / Kirağı çiçekleriyle ilgili birkaç link:
My mom's photos, including lots of other subjects as well. You might end up becoming a fan of wild turkeys!
(Başka konular da dahil olarak annemin fotoğrafları. Yaban hindileri hayranı olmanız da mümkün!)

Another site that includes some of my mother's best photos
(Annemin en güzel fotoğraflarından birkaç tanesini içeren bir site)

A site that includes photos of ice forming in a similar way on metal railing
(Buzun benzer bir şekilde metal bir korkuluğa oluşmasını da gösteren bir site)

(Ice formations on wood)
(Tahtada oluşan kırağı oluşumları)

(A great time-lapse film of frost flower forming.)
(Bir kırağı çiçeğinin oluşmasını gösteren harika bir hızlandırılmış çekim)

1982 yılında annem, 1960 yılından beri yaşadığı Iowa eyletinden ayrılıp, Arkansas eyaletinin Ozark dağlarında bir küçük kasabaya taşındı. Iowa'da güzel bir bahçesi vardı fakat yeni evinde toprak çok ince ve sertti, ayrıca önlemler alınmayınca ne ekersen ek, %95i yaban geyiklerine yem olur. O yüzden dikkatini daha çok bölgenin zengin bitki örtüsüne çevirdi. Yerel bitki ailelerini tanımayı öğrendi, ve birkaç yıl içinde kendini aşıp, bölgedeki üniversite profesörlerin, belli bir bitki türü bulmak istediği zaman başvurdukları bir uzman haline gelmişti. İşte annem hiç birşeyi yarım yamalak birşeyi yapmaz!

Bunun konuya ne alakası var? Hemen hemen hiçbiri ama annem için biraz böbürlemek için fırsatı kaçırmak istemedim. Yine de annemin merakıyla ilgisi kesinlikle var.

Annem her sabah çok erken kalkıyor. Yani 4.50 civarında. Sabahlardan biri, arka penceresinden, ziyaretçilerin özel yaban çiçeklerine basmalarını engellenmesi için yerleştirilen birkaç ağaç dalı hariç doğal halini hemen hemen tamamen kornunmuş olan arka bahçesine bakarken, her tarafta beyaz topaklar görmüş. "Her halde bir hayvan tekrar bir çöp tenekesini devredip her yere strafor dağıtmış" diye, ceketini giyip temilemeye çıkmış. Fakat ilk parçayı toplamaya eğilince elinde bir avuç buz bulmuş. Meğer bütün bu strafor parçaları, buzdanmış, hem de sadece belli bitkilerin kurumuş gövdelerinde oluşuyorlarmış.

Fenomeni biraz araştırdıktan sonra, bunlara "frost flowers," yani "kırağı çiçekleri" denildiğini öğrendi. Onun bölgesinde özellikle "kırağı otu" adıyla da geçen Verbseina virginica ve kokusu kekiğe benzeyen Cunila origanoides olmak üzere iki bitki türünde oluşuyor, fakat değişik bölgelerde kırağı çiçekleri oluşturan başka türler de var. Hatta sadece bitkilerde değil, bazen içinde su biriktiği metal korkmalıklar ve odun parçalarında bile oluşabilir. Batı Avrupa'da oduna oluşan buza "saç buzu" derler, veya Hollandacada haareis.

Annem annem olduğu için, dediğim gibi hiçbirşeyi yarım yamalak bir şekilde yapmaz, dolayısıyla her sabah çıkıp fotoğraflamaya başladı. Kaç yıl önce başladığını tam hatırlamıyorum (her halde yorumlarda bize söylecektir!) fakat şimdi bildiğim kadarıyla dünyanın en büyük buz çiçeği fotoğraf arşivine sahip. İsteyenler, fotoğraflarını yukarıdaki linklere tıklayarak görebilir. Bir de, çok büyümeleri için bahçesindeki bu bitkileri çok şımartıyor!

Kırağı çiçeklerini görebilmeniz için yerine getirilmesi gereken üç şart var. 1) Sıcaklık geceleyin 0 altına düşüp fakat suyun bitki gövdelerine akabilmesi için gündüz sıfırı aşması da gerekiyor. 2) Yapısının kırağı çiçeklerinin olşmasına uygun olduğu bitkiler mevcut olması lazım. 3) Erken kalmanız lazım! Çünkü güneşin ışıltıları bu çok geçici "çiçeklerin" dokunur dokunmaz, hemen eriyip toprağa dönüyorlar.

Acaba Türkiye'de de oluyor mu? Bilmiyorum. Bu yazıyı birkaç hafta önce yazmaya karar verdiğimden beri her gece hava durumuna ayaz için bakıyorum. Olmadı....olmadı....sonra geldi fakat beraberinde birkaç cm kar da geldiği için, kırağı çiçekleri oluştuysa ondan habersiz kalmaya mahkumum işte. Ve beklemeye devam! Bahçede veya evimin yakınındaki kırlarda görürsem fotoğrafını çekip paylaşırım. Siz de paylaşın!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Lights - Kış Işıkları

I'll be the first to admit that I don't spend lots of time out in the garden this time of year. We have some pleasant days but overall January in Istanbul is not much different from January in Seattle. If you like blowing cold rain, this is the place for you!

But of course there are still things going on in the garden. We think of winter as an inactive time, and spring as the season of reawakening, but here in our hard-to-pin-down, almost-but-not-quite-Mediterranean climate, things are a little different. Fall does bring the baring of the trees, but also the first real rains, which wake up most of the herbaceous plants. By January, the hills are green; as I walk up the long back road to the Kavacık market I see growing Geranium robertianum, grasses, sweet violets, sicleweed, wild Erodium and Lathyrus species and much more. Chickweed makes a deep fresh carpet over exposed areas, along with one of my most-despised weeds, pellitory, aka asthma weed (Parietaria judaica). If you live in the US you might not be familiar with it; if you're in Australia, you almost certainly are. It's a spreading weed with brittle red stems and tenacious roots that produces no end of small burr-like seeds. But it has its place as part of the spring carpet.

In the garden, there are still some autumn stragglers. The most conspicuous is the pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). In Seattle I grew this plant for its wonderful fragrant leaves but rarely got much floral mileage out of it because the first frosts would usually put an end to the show almost as it began. Here, it gets nearly five feet tall and it's just now starting to look a little tired. It also set seed for the first time since I've grown it; several small plants have come up around the garden.

Of course the winter preparation for the spring burst is also underway in the garden. There are now great rosettes of white comfrey and borage, waiting for the warming of spring to send up their white and blue flower clusters. Evening primrose rosettes lay dark and flat, taking advantage of the occasional warm day to score a little growth. Hellebores are also taking advantage of the abundant water to grow this year's collection of thick leaves before hardening them off for the hot days ahead. Some of the narcissus, most notably the paper whites, are already almost full size, and it won't be long before they add their fragrance to winter days. A single sweet violet has already bloomed. The Amaryllis belladonna is growing great guns, storing its energy for the show. It takes a slightly different tack, dying down in late spring and waiting till most of the competition has passed before re-announcing its presence in late summer with a sudden fanfare of hot pink trumpets.

Sometimes what we think of winter flowers are just late fall stragglers, or especially precocious spring bloomers. In Iowa crocus and grape hyacinths were early but that meant April; here the crocus are already well on their way by late February. Still, they are "spring flowers" to me. Others though are real winter troopers, going through the worst that (our) winter has to offer. Winter Honeysuckle is one of them; I've already seen its sweet-scented flowers appearing on bushes around the city, mostly unnoticed by passersby. Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) is not all that common here, but it should be starting any day now with its yellowish bells and bittersweet fragrance, like perfumed wine.

The other day I was out checking the state of things when I noticed a flash of purple out of the corner of my eye. It was an iris, but not a confused German iris like last year. This was Iris unguicularis, or Cretan iris, also known as Algerian iris. I'd gotten the plant 3 years ago from a friend in Seattle along with several Pacific Coast hybrids and they'd gotten mixed up. Since they look rather similar out of bloom, I wasn't even sure what the plant was till I saw it in bloom for the first time.

This is one very tough plant, and ideal for xeriscapes. It's a carefree plant that will practically thank you for summer neglect, rewarding you in the darkest days of winter with a long succession of beautiful flowers ranging from pale lavender to rich purple blue. The flowers are not held high; they can be somewhat obscured among the leaves but why look a gift horse in the mouth? It may also take a little patience, but about the only thing you will have to be vigilant about is slugs and snails; for a snail, an emerging Cretan iris flower is something like a dark chocolate pecan caramel in the middle of a box of fruit creams...they'll pass up everything else to get it. So a sprinkling of snail bait is not a bad idea!

I. unguicularis is not the easiest plant to find in nurseries but it's available online with several named varieties, including some pure white varieties. One English company that offers it is Avon Bulbs.

Kışın bahçeme çok çıkmadığımı açıkça kabulleniyorum. Buranın Ocak havası, Seattle'ınkine fazlasıyla benziyor zaten, sümüklü böcekler veya soğuk rüzgarlar ve yağmur seven mazoşistler için ideal!

Genelde kış hareketsiz bir zaman olarak düşünülüyor fakat aslında çok hareket var. Bizim "hemen-hemen-Akdeniz-fakat-tam-olmayan" ikliminde kış, bir "uyku" zamanından çok, bir "hazırlanma" zamanı olarak nitelendirilebilir. Sonbahar çıplaklaşan ağaçler getirse de, aynı zamanda yamaçları yeşile büründürüen ilk yağmurlar da getiriyor beraberinde. Belli olmazsa bile, soğanlar ve diğer bitkiler büyümek ve yazda azalan sudan iyi faydalanabilmek için köklerini derinlere uzattırıyor. Hodanlar şimdiden kocaman olmuş, yanındaki bitkilerinin ilbaharda altlarında kaybolmasını engellemek için şimdiden iyice elemem gerekecek. Onları elerken, aynı zamanda her tarafta büyüyen, en çok nefret ettiğim ot olan Parietaria judaica'yı yoluyorum. Türkçe adını hiç bilmiyorum, bilen varsa söyler misiniz? İngilizcede "astım otu" diyoruz. Ben de onu "İstanbul'un resmi otu" olarak düşünüyorum, bulunmadığı yer yok çünkü! Toprak biraz sertleştikten sonra çok daha zor olacak, çünkü gövdeleri kırılgan fakat kökleri sapasağlam. Şimdi kolayca çekilebilir.

Çiçeklerini sonbaharda açan bazı bitkiler, kışa devam ediyor. Bunlardan kendini çok belli eden bir tane, Salvia elegans, nam-ı diğer "Ananas kokulu adaçayı." Seattle'da bu bitkiyi daha çok mis kokulu yaprakları için yetiştiriyordum, ayazlar daha erken geldiği için çiçekleme faslı başlar balamaz sona eriyordu. Fakat İstanbul'daki bahçemde bu dayanıklı bitki yaklaşık 1.80 cm'a ulaşmış, çiçeklerini açmaya da devam ediyor. Geçen yıl ilk defa tohum da yaptı, birçok küçüğü bahçenin değişik yerlerinde çıktı.

Başka bitkileri "erken açan ilkbahar çiçekleri" olarak değerlendiriyorum. Mesela çiğdemler çok erken açsa da, gerçek kış çiçeği sayılmaz.

Fakat bazı bitkiler gerçekten kış kahramanları oluyor. Mesela İstanbul'un çok parkında bulunan fakat pek farkına varılmayan Kış Hanımelisi (Lonicera fragrantissima) var. Şimdiden bile güzel kokulu çiçeklerini açmmaya başlamış. Şimdiden ana gövdesinden 20 cm'lik bir ucunu kırıp toprağa dikerseniz, ilkbahara kadar kök salar. Her bahçenin bir köşesinde olmalı bence! (Öyleyse neden benimkinde yok?) Bir başka parlayan kış yıldızı, Chimonanthus praecox'tır. Bu İran menşeli bitki İstanbul'da çok yaygın olmamasına rağmen yok da değil. Levent'te bir evin önünde kocaman bir çalısı gördüm. Memleketinde "gol-e yakh" (buz çiçeği) olarak bilinen bu bitkiyi belki ilk başta gözleriniz değil burnunuzla bulursunuz, sarımsı çan şeklindeki çiçekleri parfümlü şarap gibi bir yoğun koku saçıyor. Sabriniz varsa tohumdan da yetiştirabilirsiniz, kışta dallarında devam eden tohumları şimdiden ekebilirsiniz. Fakat çiçek açana kadar en az 4 yıl süreceği için biraz para harcayıp fidanlıktan almakta da yarar var.

Birkaç gün önce güzel havadan faydalanıp bahçemin durumuna bakmak için çıktığımda, gözümün bir ucunda mor bir parıltı gördüm. Bir iris (süsen)miş! Fakat geçen yılki gibi şaşırmış bir "mezarlık zambağı" değil, bu kez gerçek anlamıyla bir kış irisiydi - Girit irisi veya Cezayir irisi olarak da bilinen Iris unguicularis. Birkaç yıl önce Seattle'da yaşayan bir arkadaştan aldığım bu bitkiyi, çiçek açmadığı dönemde çok benzediği Pacific İrislerle karıştırıp, acaba niye çiçek açmıyor diye merak da etmiştim...

Daha yaygın olan mezarlık süsenleri kadar gösterişli bir bitki değil bu, çiçekleri genelde yaprakların arasında açılıyor. Fakat kışın bu denli güzel bir çiçek açtığına göre, "bedava bir atın dişlerine bakılmaz" bence. Son derece dayanıklı bu iris, ihmalınız için size karakışın ortasında bol çiçekle teşekkür edecek, yeter ki biraz sabrınız olsun. Ayrıca salyangozlar her halde bunun tomurcuklarını, bayat sossuz salatanın ortasında bir parça baklava gibi gördükleri için biraz salyangoz ilacı da kötü bir fikir değil.

Cezayir irisi burada kolay bulunmaz fakat internette satış yapan yurtdışı fidanlıklardan elde edilebilir. Avon Bulbs mesela beyazdan zengin mora kadar uzanan birkaç cinsi sunuyor.

Hurma tohumlarını isteyenlere bir not: Sizi unutmadım! Birkaç istek geldiği için hepsini aynı günde göndereceğim.