File this under unnatural fears. The clown part, especially. I don’t know precisely what it is, whether it be the deathly-white face, big red nose, or multi-hued wig, but something about clowns triggers a primal fear in me. I avoid them at all costs. Fortunately, clowns don’t dig Alaska, so I don’t often encounter them. Rumor has it they frequent birthday parties of unfortunate children, but in all my years of party attendance, both willing and unwilling, I have never seen one. I hear the big cities are plagued with their less flamboyant cousins, the mimes, but I can’t say for sure.
If you are currently considering revenge of some kind, do consider a hot tip: tell your victim to visit this search on clown pictures, which turned up a mere 3,980,000 results. Not for the faint of heart. I’m almost positive there is a movie genre devoted to clown horror (filed away next to dental horror) so I know I’m not the only one that gets freaked out by painted faces wearing day-glow polyester hair.
I can even buy this handy dandy book to overcome my coulrophobia, or fear of clowns. Yes, it’s so prevalent, there is a real fancy-sounding term for it. Egad.
Musing on clown behavior, something I try not to do by the way, has led me consider if there are plants ideally suited to them. I’m not thinking obnoxious behavior necessarily, but I am reminded of the old clown gag where too many clowns fit in one tiny car. I guess I can be clownish in the garden, ramming things in cheek-by-jowl until there are so many things in such a small space that it’s a fight to the death for the poor things, a horticultural “Lord of the Flies” if you will. Some actual plants with clown names include Clown fig (Ficus aspera), Clown orchid, Hibiscus ‘Clown’, and Amaryllis ‘Clown’. My two bits: a clown friendly garden would include bold colors, plants that “leave a mark,” and plants that are out of scale (large leaves or microscopic plants).
Clowns are all about color. When I think “clown”, I don’t think of pastel or muted shades. Clowns are primary color loving, loud and proud, just think of a box of crayons. I realize this is a touchy subject, for what is the high and Holy Grail of the plant world for some is the chewing gum on the bottom of the shoe for others, for both color and combination thereof. And genus too, I suppose. Some random ideas in this department: Gladiolus, Gaillardia (the bright red and gold one, I just can’t get myself to like it, no matter how I try), white daisies (don’t ask me why), and gerbera daisies. Please feel free to add (or subtract) from this list.
So what does a clown love in a flower? I think clowns would really love lilies: any flower that makes a perfectly reasonable person look like a fool has got to be on the list. Think of the clown gag involving the lapel-mounted flower. As the sucker goes in for a sniff, the clown squeezes the magic button and “squirt,” the sniffer gets a shot of water in the eye. I suppose the horticultural equivalent of the lapel squirt is sniffing a lily and ending up with pollen on your snoot. Been there, done that. Pollen is one of those really-difficult-to-remove-from-anything-but-a-bee type substances, ranking right up there with red wine, dog urine, and grass as far as things you don’t want to get on Aunt Clara’s white couch. If not lilies, then Euphorbia. The sap really does cause blistering (at least on my face, it did). Those freaky horror-type clowns would get a chuckle out of my discomfort.
I can’t think of the last time I saw a clown tastefully dressed in clothes, let alone shoes, in the proper size. It just isn’t done. So a clown garden would be full of big, over-sized flowers and plants. That, or teeny, weenie, tiny plants. Scale be darned. Many (admittedly fantastic) tropicals are on the short clown-approved list: Colocasia, Musa, Alocasia, Hedychium, and we mustn’t forget Zantedeschia. I guess alpines and dwarf conifers would be on the list, too. I keep coming back to Gerber daisies, but maybe it’s just a mental block.
So to sum up this silly bit of prose (which may in fact be the dumbest thing I’ve written in a long time), many of us garden in a distinctive style, whether it be prairie, cottage, formal, New Wave, minimalist, what have you. Most styles are characterized by certain types of plants so I think “clown” is a legitimate design category. Clowns are supposed to make people laugh, right? I probably could stand to laugh more often, so maybe I’ll convert my minimalist garden into a clown garden. (That was a joke.)
Any clown lovers out there? Any clowning around in your garden?