Grandpa Ott comes back to haunt me every year, so vigorously, and so faithfully, that despite my efforts to eradicate him, I finally have to give up and salute the blind life force that drives his flower.
Grandpa Ott is the man who gave his name to a lush purple variety of morning glory: according to the lore of the gardening world, John Ott was a Bavarian immigrant who passed this variety of morning glory down to his granddaughter, Diane Whealey, in 1972. The deep purple flowers inspired her to start the Seed Saver's Exchange, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.
I planted Grandpa Ott morning glories once, only once, in my garden--years ago. That year, I wanted a bed of annual vines, so I erected bamboo teepees and on them grew hyacinth bean, cardinal climber, and Grandpa Ott morning glories. The next year, I went on to try something else, and then something else.
Still, each year, toward the mid to end of the summer, I'd see Grandpa Ott surfacing in my garden, and I'd pull him out every time. Inevitably, every year, I would overlook a vine, and a lush purple morning glory would appear between the leaves of plants I'd intentionally planted, its throat painted with five stripes of brilliant magenta.
Still, this year, I set out as usual to pull out the Grandpa Ott seedlings, not wanting them to overtake my carefully-planted silver garden, with its catmints and Russian sages. As always, I regretted eradicating the large heart-shaped leaves and the vigorous, twining vines.
This time, I resolved to find another place to put him, and I found it: along the driveway fence, where the available growing medium is asphalty rubble, and rugged weeds like goldenrod grow happily.