How long?

Wild Geranium ( Geranium maculatum ), May 16 2019

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), May 16 2019

How long does this bloom? I am often asked.

My answer is disappointing. Two weeks or so. Maybe three. I say. The moment is uncomfortable. Some plants timing their blooms to particular pollinators. Their lives can be brief.

Somehow this can be a satisfying answer. Yes, a relationship calls for this short bloom. Two living things decided, this is what happens: I fly, you bloom. I drive around with pollen, cross-pollinating. You make seeds. Done. Except other Insects drill holes in the seeds, some rot, some are blanks, drought hits and the seeds wither.

If I sense hesitation, disappointment not alleviated, I continue, Perennials are built to last. They live many years and are more concerned with robust roots than producing continuous blooms and therefore incredible amounts of seed. I might make a comment about reproduction, maybe even a slightly off color one to add a humor.

Of course, many natives - perennials like the Asters and the Goldenrods, for example - make abundant seed each year. Little is simple in ecology, in nature.