Maureen And The Morning Glories

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Star of Yelta Morning Glories

It all began with one little packet of seeds bought at Drug Fair. While Martha Stewart and the landscaping divas were selling America on fancy, expensive flowers from specialty nurseries, one Verona mom was quietly discovering the beauty of a dime store blossom: Morning Glories.

Maureen Jacobs Costa loves Morning Glories, and they clearly love her back. She has big tangles of Morning Glory vines all around her house. There are some on the front lamp-post, and another group of stems that call the front door home. There are Morning Glories by the side door and a trellis or two of Morning Glories out back. And if you think that all of this sounds monotonous, think again. Costa has planted four different colors of Morning Glories, ranging from light blue to fuschia. She’d probably plant even more colors if she could just find space to start the plants, which are annuals, every spring.

“I start them in March on the living room window sill,” she says. “I move the couch all the way out of the way. It just kills my husband.”

Pink Star Morning Glories
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Costa’s love of Morning Glories began at another house in Verona about six years ago. She’s a walker, and noticed a thick cluster of Morning Glory vines on an arbor in front of a house on Grove Avenue.  She bought one small package of seeds, and started to teach herself how to grow them. “I think these flowers are magical,” she says. “To see them open in the morning–what a good morning.”

Her first vines were a variety called Heavenly Blue, the biggest of the Morning Glory blossoms. She’s since added a deep purple called Star of Yelta, the fuschia Scarlett O’Hara and Pink Star, a pale blue Morning Glory with pink veins. She has, by her own reckoning, collected thousands of seeds from the blossoms, which she uses to start a new crop each year–and create packages of seeds to be given to other Morning Glory lovers. She puts the new plants in the ground Mother’s Day, but says that it takes the until July for them to really take hold.”Early September is when they are at their most beautiful,” Costa adds.

Scarlet O'Hara Morning Glory

In the right conditions, the vines can grow a foot a day, which can present some challenges. One year, the vines over the front door grew too heavy for their supports and came crashing down. She called her friend Liz Sniatkowski for help. “Liz said, ‘Do you have drapery hooks?’,” Costa recalls. “I did, and so we pounded drapery hooks into the siding to hold the flowers up.”

Costa’s flowers are fleeting beauties, but she has captured some of their glory in photos. “You have only a certain amount of time to enjoy them,” she notes. But her photography is as simple as her flowers. “It’s just a regular camera,” she hastens to add, “the kind you use to take pictures of your kids.” Costa has two children–new graduates of college and Verona High School–and a budding miniature cupcake business called Fairie Cakes.

If you want to become a Morning Glory gardener, Costa has some tips. First, you must resign yourself to predators, from bugs and squirrels to Verona’s omnipresent deer. Then, just learn to let Morning Glories just be Morning Glories. “When I started, I tended too much to them,” Costa says. “I thought they needed more care than they did.”

Heavenly Blue and Pink Star

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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