New plants for 2015

It is easy for me to go stir-crazy this time of year, because the weather doesn’t typically cooperate enough for me to work in the yard. So, I spend my time planning which changes I intend to make to the landscaping, and ordering new plants online. Good for my cabin fever; bad for my wallet.

These three plants will be joining us in a few weeks:

'Aphrodite' Sweetshrub
‘Aphrodite’ Sweetshrub

I am a big fan of sweetshrubs due to the lovely one I discovered in the yard when we moved here 5 years ago, so I was very excited to see Proven Winners debut a sweetshrub that actually enhances the best features of my older plant. The intoxicating blooms of ‘Aphrodite’ are larger and it has a longer blooming period.

The Rising Sun Redbud
The Rising Sun Redbud

I could not believe my eyes when I stumbled across this gem online! This small redbud blooms normally, but the real show begins when the leaves emerge in a peach color before maturing to dark green. Apparently, keeping it watered and fertilized forces the show to continue throughout the growing season.

Akatsuki Dogwood
Akatsuki Dogwood

This small tree has stunning variegated leaves and large flowers that open white before gradually turning pink. It blooms longer than most dogwoods, and has excellent fall color.

To thine own self be true

We live in a time when the effeminate male has become a bit of a pariah within the gay community. The standard for a desirable man is often described as “straight-acting,” and many guys are quick to point out they only want masculine, non-effeminate men. Because so many of us exhibit behavior that could be considered feminine, one has to wonder if this is symptomatic of self-loathing within the gay community.

I certainly wasn’t what one would consider a boyish child. Sure, I did my fair share of tree-climbing and the like, but I was just as comfortable playing Barbies with my sister or going shopping with a car full of women. As I got older, there were times when this kind of behavior was discouraged by adults, but most of the negativity I received as a child came from other kids. I absolutely despised being called a sissy. “Only girls play tambourines,” said one boy at church, much to my chagrin.

On the other hand, my maternal grandmother practically encouraged my girlish behavior by saying I should have been born female. She even gave me, my sister, and our two girl cousins matching dolls and strollers for Christmas one year, explaining, “I didn’t want him to feel left out.”

Even though I tried to alter some of what I thought were undesirable traits as I grew older, I never was able to morph into the idealized concept of masculinity. As an adult male, I still have characteristics that most guys would consider feminine. I cry easily while watching television. I love dancing like a slut to Beyoncé music. I worry incessantly about how I look. I’m pretty sure I have at least two periods a month.

But really, why do we care so much more when female traits are exhibited by a man than when masculine traits are exhibited by a woman? I suppose our patriarchal society can’t help but attribute power and strength to masculinity while relegating anything feminine to the weak and defenseless. It does a huge disservice to women when gay men allow themselves to be brainwashed into such a misogynistic way of thinking.

Human beings are complicated, but I wish we could evolve beyond our imperfect expectations of what we think male/female and gay/straight should look like. I wish we all could just accept ourselves as unique and whole persons without pressuring ourselves to become something we can never be.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – William Shakespeare