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Here’s the Story, Morning Glory

Last year my awesome sister-in-law, Mary, gave me some Morning Glory seeds. She said they originally came from her grandfather’s garden and they were quite special to her and she thought I’d like to plant them by my side porch. So I did and I pretty much forgot about them until a couple of weeks ago when I went out the kitchen door to get the mail and I saw this:

Morning Glory buds! And the prettiest buds I think I have ever seen. They were tightly wrapped into a beautiful sphere. The colors were beautiful and held the promise of something wonderful to come. The vines had found their way to the railings of my porch and I was so impressed at their ability to do this without any guidance or prompting from me.

Two days later the buds morphed into these perfectly round and curled-in cones. The stripes were just lovely and totally surprised me, I never saw that coming. They stayed in this shape for several days until finally, last week, they bloomed.

There are only a handful of blossoms right now but they are sweet and perfect and so old-fashioned they warm my heart, I tell you. The transformation from bud to flower is amazing and I’m glad I was able to capture it in photographs.

I saw Mary the other day and I asked her if she could give me some more details on these plants that came from her grandfather and here’s what she told me:

My first gardening experience was with my grandfather. When I was a young girl, I was always a little afraid of Grandfather Howard. He was a very, very large man, he smoked really awful cigars and he liked to eat moldy cheese. But when I walked home from school in September, sometimes I’d see him out working in his garden and I’d stop in to say hello. He loved to grow huge red tomatoes and he’d always let me pick one and eat it while it was still warm in the late-summer sun.
He also loved to grow snapdragons and marigolds. But his favorite flowers, by far, were morning glories. They grew up strings along the side of his house and up every fence. Pink and purple blooms climbed everywhere. One October day he showed me a table he set up in the garage for drying his morning glory seeds. He explained that he would plant those seeds the next spring. At the time, I was more interested in boys than learning about seeds, but I never forgot my grandfather’s first lesson about saving seeds.
In the early 1980s my husband Randy and I went to visit my grandfather. He was in his late 60s, and his health was failing, but he was still gardening, puffing on cigars, and saving his seeds. He gave me a bag of morning glory seeds that day and he told me how to plant them in the spring. That next spring I planted some of them and to my amazement they climbed everywhere and bloomed throughout July, August and September. They were beautiful. I saved those seeds, just like my grandfather taught me. I gave some to my friends who had admired my morning glories and I still had plenty for planting the next year.
My grandfather died shortly after giving me the seeds, but I still have that first bag of seeds he gave me. It means a lot to me now, because he took the time to talk to me about gardening. He planted a seed in me, a seed that has continued to grow over the years.

I think plants that come with a story are the best plants of all. So here’s to my morning glories.

And Mary’s Grandfather Howard.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Those are beautiful Carole, and what a great story!

    I’m growing them (the regular blue ones) this year too. In previous years I tried from seed and nothing much happened (also they were in a box). This year I bought a few plants and they’re in the ground, climbing the ends of the trellis I made for the sungolds.

    I love them!

  2. What a wonderful story! I just love morning glories. They are so sweet and charming — and such a great treat in the garden at this time of year. . . when everything else is getting pretty tired.

  3. I am definitely going to plant some morning glories next year. Yours are absolutely beautiful!

  4. Those are amazing pictures. I love the spiraling bud. Did she teach you how to dry the seeds? Are there any tricks to the process?

  5. Great photos and what a nice story. I haven’t grown morning glories for ages and this year I planted some seeds. The vines are finally getting tall but I’ve yet to see any buds. Maybe it’s the crazy summer weather here, but I hope to have flowers soon.

  6. Do morning glories need to be replanted every year? Are you going to try and save the seeds? The flowers are so delicate and beautiful, yet they have a strong hardy feel and deep, glorious color.

  7. What a wonderful story – sometimes the best history is local and colorful and close to our hearts. The morning glories are beautiful, even more so because of the history behind them. Thanks for sharing Mary’s Grandfather Howard with us 🙂

  8. the story of grandfather and granddaughter was so touching. Your photos are amazing–I have an entirely fresh appreciation of morning glories!

  9. I don’t mulch my garden because I get a lot of “volunteers.” I always have a ton of snapdragons because years ago my neighbor used to plant them. I still have larkspur because the ones I planted several years ago self-seed every year. The sunflowers are courtesy of the messy finches. Looking at your morning glory, I think maybe the vines I pulled out of the sundrops might be volunteer morning glories from another neighbor’s garden. I think I’ll let them grow a little taller now. Given the random flowers in my garden, I let some things grow until I identify it or decide it’s a weed. I think I’ll hold off on the heart-shaped vines a little longer.

  10. What a touching story about Mary and her grandfather.

    My sister had a friend who passed away but left instructions that his zinnia seeds were to be distributed at his funeral. They were… and now my sister grows his zinnias in her yard.

  11. Beautiful heirloom variety and lovely story behind it. It looks very similar to Grandpa Ott’s only in pink.

  12. I love morning glories and moonflowers which are like morning glories on steroids. They bud and unfurl in exactly the same beautiful way.

    Thanks for the gorgeous pictures!

  13. I *heart* morning glories… it is the name of my blog: Morning Glory Stories. That bloom is absolutely incredible.


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