It is dusk. Robby and I are lingering over a shared piece of apple pie as we finish dinner outside by the brick garden wall. Suddenly there is a familiar throaty whirr—and a hummingbird zooms past us. And another. The first perches on the clothesline and rests nearby. The second shoots to the very tiptop of a small mimosa tree.
The hummingbird carefully inserts its tiny beak into each pink spray of flowers, swinging from one to the next.
A mimosa-lover. Like me. And that’s my confession.
Yes, I know mimosa is not native. I know it becomes invasive along the roadsides and crowds out other plant species. We aren’t supposed to have them in our yard. And, for years, I didn’t.
But I loved the month of June, when open car windows on the way to the Outer Banks brought a rush of mimosa fragrance and the roadside lined with blossoms. And, coming home from anywhere, taking the Fort Eustis exit ramp off #64, I knew we were home when our headlights revealed trees heavy with pink blooms hanging over the roadway.
Mimosas aren’t native to Virginia, but I guess I am native to mimosas. As a child, I found the low, round, smooth gray trunks and branches inviting to climb. When summer came, the heavy perfume of mimosa blossoms drifted on the humid night air, and filled our dreams as we slept by open windows.
The exotic flowers—crisp and delicate at the same time—were sweet little scented brushes to tickle the nose. The pink and cream color made them look like a dessert. Running through dewy grass in the early mornings, the dried flowers from the day before stuck to my feet and got tracked into the back porch. I can feel them still.
After my mother died and before her home place passed to new owners, I dug up a fig bush to transplant to my house a mile down the road. I picked up several clay pots of amaryllis bulbs also growing under the dappled shade of her spreading mimosa tree.
And that’s how Robby and I learned firsthand how easily mimosas spread. Before I knew it, a mimosa was coming straight up in the middle of our fig.
After my amaryllis bloomed, and I set them out to gain strength over the summer, mimosas popped up in all the pots
And so, we have mimosas. For now, we are letting one grow. It’s beginning to make a nice little space of shade on the corner of the driveway, just right for our outdoor table. We can always cut it down any time, we tell ourselves. And someday we will. But until that day, we will take joy in the sight of hummingbirds dipping and swaying in its frothy pink blossoms.
Susan Yoder Ackerman is a writer and gardener in Newport News, Virginia. Both her writing and her gardening are enhanced by tending a century-old family farmhouse and eight grandchildren that come and go. You can email Susan at [email protected]