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Dirt’s Garden

Many of my favorite people are plant fools.  These souls cherish and admire the green world above almost anything else.

On one of my visits, Dr. Dirt made this “bokay” for my Mama.

I am happy to hang with them.  Their tales of heroic propagation, amazing encounters with rare plant communities and inspired plant combinations move me to tell my own stories.

Leon Goldsberry was one of these Flower Children.  As a child, he learned a bit of gardening from his mother Millie.  Leon and Millie lived on the wrong side of the tracks in the small racially charged community of Edwards, Mississippi.

During the Vietnam Era, Leon headed for Toronto where he raised a family and became a chef.  In the late 1990’s he returned to Edwards to care for his mother.

After Millie’s death, he inherited her house and remained in Edwards.  For the next two decades, he spent almost every day on a mission to make the garden his own.  In the process, Leon Goldsberry transformed himself into Dr. Dirt.

He honored his mother by calling his place “Millie’s Garden”.  The garden was graced by Millie’s large old specimen plants – an ancient pecan, robust quince bushes, centenarian hydrangeas and a giant fig tree that towered over the house.

Dirt added antique roses, pomegranates, altheas and trumpet honeysuckle.  He planted a carpet of pass-alongs like Turk’s cap mallow, summer phlox, soapwort, tickseed and narrowleaf sunflower.  These garden inhabitants were gleaned from abandoned house sites or traded and bartered from other gardeners.

This quiet sitting place was one of my favorite parts of Millie’s Garden. If Dirt chanced upon reduced sale paint in a color he liked, he would repaint the glider, concrete & accents.

Millie’s Garden was a difficult site with heavy soil, drainage issues and a high-speed train track that skirted the property line.  Dirt dug channels to drain the water.  He mounded the excavated soil into his beds and paths to raise them.

He planted extensive container gardens in old shoes, buckets, toy trucks and sinks that he foraged from the roadsides.   And, for the most part, he learned to ignore the trains.

The garden was astonishing, Dirt had turned his artistic chef’s eye toward the green world.  The plantings included aggressive species that were meticulously groomed every day.  Native plants and wildflowers mingled with the exotics and with the original folk art that Dirt made from found objects.

In 2004, Dirt was “discovered” by Felder Rushing and the two began to co-host the Mississippi Public Radio show “The Gestalt Gardener”.  The radio show was a mixed blessing for Dirt.  He relished the new contacts he made with avid gardeners and most importantly the new plants he procured for his garden.  He travelled with Felder and was inspired by many of the gardens that he toured on these trips.  He was, however, diminished by each day that he was not present in his own.

Eventually Dirt left the radio show and began spending almost all his time in Millie’s Garden.  During this time, I was on the road a lot & would frequently exit I-20 and drop in to see Dirt.  I tried to always bring a plant he might like and he always had a new flower to show me.

The garden was a peaceful paradise.  As we rambled, though, Dirt would pause, check the time and signal that I should cover my ears.  Seconds later a screaming earth-shaking  locomotive would pass on the tracks barely 50’ away.

In October, the narrowleaf sunflowers were a sight to behold.

I loved Millie’s Garden and I testified about it.  I took my Horticulture students there on field trips, visited with Landscape Architect friends and even invited the Mississippi Native Plant Society to see Dirt’s narrowleaf sunflowers in their golden October glory.

The best times though were when I just stopped in and followed Dirt around as he showed me his favorite flowers of the day.

I recently learned that after a battle with cancer, Dr. Dirt passed on April 9.  I imagine that as he grew ill, his garden became less groomed and wilder but still I pray that it was a comfort to him rather than a worry.

Many of my favorite people are plant fools and flower children.  Of all these stellar characters, Dr. N. Dirt loved flowers more than anyone I have ever known.

I choose not to wonder what will happen to Millie’s Garden now that Dirt is gone.

I know that a garden never survives the gardener.  It is a fact of life.   As Dr. Dirt often said “Everything starts from dirt. Everything returns to dirt”.

I am grateful to have been with him in his garden on many a beautiful day – grinning, sniffing the blooms and recalling my love of the flowers.

RIP Friend Dirt –  I’d love to see you put your spin on the Garden of Eden.

And Farewell Millie’s Garden.  I’ll not see the like of you again.

A Strong Foundation

Right now the giant leopard plant is blooming beside my front door and the purple gazing ball echos the 'Tameukeyama' maple's fall color.

I taught a Landscape Design class for quite a few years.

We always spent a good bit of time discussing the foundation planting.

I still remember the first time I heard that term.   A “foundation planting” must be the basis of all landscaping, I thought.  It sounded important and mysterious…

But actually the term just referred to a planting that bordered the foundation of a house.

On older houses, the foundation planting served the purpose of hiding the unsightly things that might accumulate in the crawl space under a house – much like the skirt on a trailer.

A couple of years before I moved into my present residence, I decided that my then rental house needed a foundation planting redo.

For inspiration – I reviewed all the “rules” that I once taught all my eager design students.

The giant leopard plant offers interesting foliage texture all year long and surprises me with a bouquet of early winter daisies.

Rule #1 – Always accent the front door using a plant with striking form, texture or color or an attractive hard feature.

Rule #2 – Clearly define the edges of the bed.

Rule #3 – Plan for interest in all seasons since you will be likely enter the house in this area almost every day of the year.

Rule #4 – Repeat plants arranging them in masses or small groups.

Then – I modified the list and added a few new rules.

Rule #5 –  Incorporate native plants.

Rule # 6 – Paint your house a color that will serve as a nice backdrop for the plants.

Rule #7 – Use plants or yard art that has sentimental value.

And last but not least, Rule #8 – use the plants that have been sitting around in your nursery instead of going out to buy new ones.

So I followed the Eight Rules and have been pleased with the results.

The 'Miss Patricia' holly, 'Rosa's Blush' dwarf blueberry and 'Taylor's Rudolph' dwarf yaupon are evergreen and variable in hue.

The plants closest to the front sidewalk have strong features.  The giant leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’) has large glossy leaves 24-7.  I also appreciate the fact that it blooms in early winter when little else is in flower.  The ‘Tameukeyama’ Japanese maple has extremely fine textured foliage, intense red-purple fall color and a striking growth habit.

Just in case two accents weren’t enough, I perched my favorite purple gazing ball on top of my husband’s grandmother’s bird bath pedestal to serve as a third.

Next to the maple, I grouped a trio of fruiting plants.  Darrow’s dwarf blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii ‘Rosa’s Blush’) is a lovely shade of gray green with pastel pink growing tips.   Dangling white blossoms are precursors to a crop of tiny blueberries.   My two hollies – ‘Miss Patricia’ and ‘Taylor’s Rudolph’  are not quite so precocious.  I’m hoping they will begin to produce red holly berries in the next year or so.  Right now I have to be content with the deep green foliage they offer.

The bed is bordered with small pieces of petrified wood gifted by my friend, Peter Loos and carpeted with a planting of native Louisiana phlox.  I think that the plants are quite striking in front of the background colors I have chosen for the house.

And 99% of this planting originated in my little backyard nursery.   Many of the plants were gifts from nursery friends or souvenirs of vacations.  Others were propagated from cuttings or seed.  Many had sentimental value.

It was wonderfully liberating to get them all in the ground so that I could really live with them as landscape plants.

And so that I had enough space in the nursery to start a new plant collection!

Orange you glad it’s Fall?

Our giant white oak has yet to change color or drop leaves but the hickory behind is golden orange.

Here in the South, we never know what kind of fall foliage to expect.  Some years the leaves simply turn brown and slough off.   Other time like this year we have a radiant Autumn with intense leaf color that continues for weeks.

In celebration we have spent a lot of time on the woodland trails and on the back deck admiring the display.

In late afternoon, we can be found gazing to the west toward the mockernut hickory next door which is back-lit by the setting sun.

The hickory is framed by the giant white oak that inspired me to buy this place.

In the fall color department, the white oak is a bit of a slacker.  The hickory, however, has been dependably golden every autumn.

The landscape plants make a nice transition to the orange dogwoods in the edge of the woods.

I have lived here for almost 30 years and have watched the mockernut grow up.  When it was still fairly young, a limb from the white oak topped the hick.  It looked kind of rough and I considered taking it out.  I am so grateful that my better judgement prevailed because the tree outgrew the injury and now the only sign is a slightly kinky leader.

Mockernut hickory is known in the plant world as a sort of prankster.   Its nuts are large and almost round but after the husk falls off, only a tiny nut and even tinier kernel are left.  I think my mockernut was planted by a squirrel who forgot to come back and nibble the tiny kernel.

On the other side of white oak central, I planted a bed – full of Japanese maples, native azaleas, bigleaf magnolia and sweetshrub.

A study in textural extremes - a golden cowcumber leaf has settled in with a threadleaf Japanese maple.

I selected a coral bark maple a.k.a ‘Sango-kaku’ for its intense red winter twigs.  I was disappointed the first fall when the leaves turned yellow instead of red.  I soon learned that after golden yellow, the leaves would morph into a beautiful shade of apricot and stay on the trees for a very long time.

I compensated by planting a threadleaf Japanese maple that does turn red in the fall.  I believe the variety is called ‘Garnet’.  It is quite striking in combination with all the yellow, gold and orange in the area.

I chose three bigleaf magnolias for their  fragrant spring blooms and striking coarse textured leaves.  The leaves of this cowcumber (as they call it in the country) can be up to a yard long.

As I walked through the back garden the other day, one of those enormous cowcumber leaves had drifted down and settled on top of the Garnet threadleaf maple.  It was quite a study in contrast – one of the most coarse textured leaves ever nestled in with one of the finest textured.

Proving once more that Autumn is a season of surprises.

 

October Blues

Cool blue-purple 'Raydon's Favorite' conspires with Indian grass to impart a lavender tinge to my slag driveway. I like it!

It has been a while since I posted an update about my new street-side (formerly driveway) bed.

Things are coming along quite well considering the harsh growing conditions.

Right now the stars of the show are an aromatic aster variety called ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’) and a striking blue Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans).  Both are first year plants and, considering that, are creating an amazing display.

I have grown the straight species aromatic aster for years and it is a fine plant.  This selection seems to have a more prolific flower display with flowers that are a little larger.

My research indicates that ‘Raydon’s Favorite was first sold by Allen Bush at Holbrook Farms.  Bush received a piece of the plant from Raydon Alexander of San Antonio, Texas.  The accompanying note stated that this aster was Raydon’s favorite.   Mr. Alexander believed that the plant originated near Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

The Indian grass is a seedling from a Mississippi Black Belt Prairie remnant.

Indian grass is one of my favorite native grasses.   It has a striking upright growth habit. Foliage is often bluish and the flower clusters are copper colored.

This was a lucky pairing.   These two blue /purple companions are the coolest combo in my October garden.

 

Location, Location, Location

I’ve been traveling a little bit.  A few days ago when I returned home, I greeted my husband, walked the dogs, exchanged pleasantries with the cats then headed back to the front yard to check for any new developments in my most recently planted bed.

I’ve made several posts about this bed beginning in April when my friend Marc helped me plant it.  The soil is compacted and gravelly since it was previously a part of the driveway.  I chose the toughest possible plants and they were charged with the task of providing a screen as quickly as possible without getting into the power line above.  I had been collecting rocks for some time and I planted some sandstone tube rocks vertically and edged the bed with small pieces of petrified wood given to me by my friend Pete.

I know that Maybell loves this bed because she enjoys perching on the rocks.  I think I am obsessed with this bed because every time I get in my car or return home I walk right past it.  I have ample opportunity to study it a close range. The bed has a severe problem with goosegrass and I do most of my weeding a little at a time on the way into the house often with the mail and my car keys in one hand.

The Loblolly bay and St. John’s wort that were the stars last month are through blooming.  They are growing well and have crisp clean foliage.  Unfortunately two of my star bushes (Illicium floridanum) have not fared so well.  They have succumbed to a wilt disease.  The third star bush still looks fine.

I am considering various replacement plants.  The replacements will need to be evergreen for screening.  They will need to be less than 8′ tall so they can stay below the power line.   If they are at all related to the star bush they are likely to be susceptible to the soil borne fungus that killed their predassessers.

My strategy for dealing with the heavy horrible compacted soil was to choose mostly tough native plants – prairie species in particular.

Right now the ‘Henry Eillers’ sweet coneflower is giving a stellar perfomance.  This selection of the native (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) has narrow rolled petals that look like quills.  I love the wild species and this cultivar is just as beautiful and florifourus.

My ‘Cassandra Loos’ marsh mallow (Kostelezkya virginica ‘Cassandra Loos’) is in full bloom and is attracting a constant stream of pollinators.  This wonderful plant was introduced by my friend Greg Grant and named in honor of our sweet departed friend, Cass.

I have one antique rose in the bed.  “Marechal Niel’ is a Noisette rose that was introduced in France in 1864.  It was named for Napoleon’s Minister of War and was renowned for being a yellow reblooming rose.   A former student gave me my first ‘Marechal Niel’.  I rooted many cuttings and gave them away before losing my stock plant.  My friend Lydia Fontenot was kind enough to give a cutting back to me.  That’s why it’s always a good policy to share plants.  You then have somewhere to go begging if you kill the original.

All in all this bed has been quite entertaining.  The star bushes didn’t make it but everything else has.  And trust me – it IS a difficult site.  I stroll past it every day, though, so I know every inch of that nasty compacted soil and I have the utmost respect for those plants that have thrived.

Summer Stars

Gordonia or loblolly bay sports pristine white camellia-like blooms.

Several months ago with the help of some friends, I planted a wonderful new bed in my front yard.

The bed is situated on abysmal compacted soil that used to be part of the driveway.  The horrible soil is riddled with chunks of gravel.

My plant palette consisted of mostly native wetland and prairie species.  Surprisingly, due to the tenacious nature of these contenders, almost everything I planted has done really well.

This spring I enjoyed the ‘Forest Frost’ phlox, zig-zag irises and the Virginia sweetspire.

Now that summer has rolled around, a new set of stars have taken center stage.

Just this week the gordonia or loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) produced her first flowers.  I chose the gordonia for this bed because it is evergreen and will grow tall enough to provide some screening.  Also its narrow upright growth habit should allow this tree to fit into my small space without encroaching on the power line.

Gordonia flowers look like single white camellias with a tuft of cheerful yellow stamens in the center.  On close examination, you can see that the white petals are bordered with a fine fringe.  Instead of withering on the plant, the flowers fall off while the petals are still white.  As the tree matures, we can drive in on a carpet of flowers every June!

The bumblebees and other pollinators love Bedstraw St. John's Wort.

Behind the gordonia a beautiful native Bedstraw St. John’s wort (Hypericum galioides) is blooming non-stop.    The flowers are golden with puffy clusters of stamens in the center.   A constant parade of bumblebees travel to and fro with their baskets full of pollen.

This is a souvenir plant.  I grew it  from cuttings collected on a float trip down the Chunky River.  The glowing blooms remind me of happy times canoeing with my pal Peter Loos.

Nearby the ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’) is throwing a crop of unseasonably early blossoms.   I have grown the straight species aromatic aster for years but this is my first experience with this cultivar.  I am impressed so far by the precocious blooms and healthy deep green leaves.

'Raydon's Favorite' aster is a precocious bloomer.

All these blossoms attract an array of pollinators.  So… every time I step out my front door there is something new to admire.

A swallowtail butterfly sails by…

A gordonia blossom drifts to the ground…

The golden St. John’s wort bobs under the weight of a hefty bee…

And the unexpected asters reflect the perfect June sky…

It all reminds me of a poem I was forced to memorize back in Junior High School.  The poem is the prelude to  “The Vision of Sir Launfel” by James Russell Lowell.

The part I remember best goes like this:

“…There is no price set on the lavish summer,

And June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, come perfect days..”


				

Make New Beds but Keep the Old…

Chinese foxglove is peeking from beneath my 'Tameukeyama' maple. A giant leopard plant and purple gazing ball accent the front entrance.

As I have previously remarked, I am totally enamored of my new front yard bed.  I wrote a blog post about Phase I of that implementation a couple of days ago and more details will soon follow.

This week, however, the 3 year old foundation planting has been catching my eye.

Back in the day, when this was a rental house, I devised a landscape plan for the front yard.

My plant list came from an eclectic collection that had accumulated over a period of years.  The plants were in a holding pattern in my little nursery.  They needed to go in the ground and nursery space was sorely needed.

So I set about to design what I have since described as the hinkiest rental house landscape ever.

I allowed myself to do this with the thought that we would probably move back in here one day.

And so we have!!!

Up close and personal with Chinese foxglove.

My  ‘Tameukeyama’ Japanese maple is the star of the planting.  It is strategically placed in front of the “picture window” so that I can admire it from both sides.

My husband Richard (a.k.a. The Timekeeper) tells me that I bought this plant as a 3 gallon nursery plant in 2006.  By the time it was planted in the ground here, it had been stepped up to a 7 gallon pot and was almost 3 feet tall.

‘Tamekeyama’ is a threadleaf Japanese maple.  These maples have leaves with very narrow thread-like lobes.   Foliage is reddish as it emerges after winter and intense orange red before winter leaf drop.

A carpet of Chinese foxglove  (Rehmannia elata) grows beneath the maple.  At bloom time, this perennial produces hot pink flowers on 2′ stems.  The foxglove-like blooms are lovely peeking through the maple foliage.  I started with about 3 Chinese foxglove plants and these have formed a thick stand.  I would be afraid that this plant might become a bit invasive in a better growing situation.

The view from my front walk with Hinkley's columbine and a purple gazing ball perched atop Richard's Grandmother's bird bath pedestal.

I walk past this lovely vista several times a day.

A couple of weeks ago the star of the planting was a lush stand of Louisiana phlox.  Those blooms are mostly gone now but as a consolation, the giant leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’) is coming out of dormancy.

During our move, the giant leopard plant fell on hard times.

I was distracted and did not water during a drought.  Then it was stepped on by someone helping us move.  I am happy to report that it seems to be in recovery mode and back to its old state of robustness.

And that’s not all – a volunteer Hinkley’s columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana) is blooming next to the sidewalk.

Since the columbine seeded itself, it is much too close to the walk but… I’m not complaining.

 

Wildflower Groundcovers

The Louisiana phlox really is a perfect backdrop for the purple gazing ball by my front door.

I’ve got to admit that most of the mainstream groundcovers seriously annoy me.

Asiatic jasmine is very aggressive.  It forms deep dense mats and constant pruning is required to keep it in bounds.

English ivy will climb and strangle a tree.

Liriope and mondograss have better manners but are somewhat boring.

Out of necessity I have developed a short list of wildflower groundcovers that I use in my design work and around my own place.

The criteria for this group of plants is simple.

First, like traditional groundcovers, they must be low growing – usually no more than two feet even in bloom.

The Louisiana phlox was mingling with the atamasco lilies on our wildflower field trip yesterday.

Second, they must have interesting foliage even when not in bloom.  It is really nice, or course, if they are evergreen.

Third, like every other plant I buy or recommend, they must be relatively free of pests and easy to maintain.

The star of my garden right now is the very lovely Louisiana or woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata).  It is planted throughout the garden in shade or partly shaded situations.

This phlox has done remarkably well in my front flower bed on the shaded north side of the house even though the soil is abysmal.

The plants have attractive fine textured leaves all winter.

The cool icy blue blossoms are lovely right now.  In fact they have been blooming for almost three weeks and will probably continue for three more.

What a champ!

This lovely mass of woodland phlox was even more beautiful in person.

Yesterday I went with the Mississippi Native Plant Society to see wild Easter lilies a.k.a atamaso lilies (Zephyranthes atamasco) in bloom.

Our site was low, wet and shady.

The woodland phlox was in bloom there as well.

So there you have it – my wildflower groundcover in its natural habitat covering the ground in a swamp forest.

I had been to the site before but this was the first time I caught the phlox in full flower.

Still – maybe that’s where I got the idea!

Bee Balm, Bumblebees and Burns

Bee balm is the most exciting flower in the Bee Meadow right now.

Despite the heat and drought, the wild bergamot or native bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) is blooming now in my Bee Meadow and in the wild.

This weekend I visited a prairie in Scott County that was full of bee balm blooming in harmony with butterfly milkweed, black eyed Susan, prairie clover and narrowleaf mountain mint.  It looked like a wonderful flower garden but the presence of charred wood indicated that the prairie was probably burned in March.

I enjoyed the prairie outing but am also glad to have bee balm close to home.  The flower heads are a beautiful frothy cluster of many individual florets.  In late evening as we approach the Bee Meadow, the fragrance of bee balm is delightful and reminiscent of the bergamot orange peel used to flavor Early Grey tea.

The bee balm blooms seem to glow in the late afternoon sun.

The scent attracts foraging bumble bees and other long-tongued bees, many other solitary bees like carpenter bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths and even ruby throated hummingbirds.

The foliage is aromatic as well.  A few moth caterpillars feed on the leaves but it is unpalatable to the ever encroaching deer.

On our late afternoon nature jaunts, we have particularly enjoyed watching the bumblebees and carpenter bees forage on the bee balm.

Bumblebees are very hairy and usually black with some sort of yellow striping.  They are closely related to honeybees but live in much smaller colonies.  They nest in holes in the ground or in cavities in rotting wood.

This carpenter bee is foraging on narrowleaf mountain mint. Note the smooth rear of the abdomen. A bumblebee would be uniformly hairy.

Bumblebees are especially efficient at pollinating flowers that are tubular shaped with pollen held on anthers deep inside.

They release the pollen by grasping the flower and vibrating their flight muscles.  This technique is called “buzz pollination” or sonication.

In addition to wildflowers, bumblebees are important pollinators of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, blueberries and cranberries.

Bumblebees are even released into greenhouses to pollinate tomatoes and strawberries .  Honeybees are very inefficient at pollinating all these crops so buzz pollination results in more and larger fruit.

Carpenter bees are solitary. They have the annoying habit of tunneling into wood to make their nests.  They are working on my front porch railings this summer.  Male carpenter bees are unable to sting but the females can inflict a painful stab.

In this Scott County Mississippi prairie, wild bergamot and butterfly milkweed are enticing the pollinators all day long.

Like bumblebees, carpenter bees practice buzz pollination.  Sometimes, however, they steal nectar without pollinating.  They bypass the pollen and go directly to the nectar by making a slit in the side of the flower.

At first I was calling all the large bees in the bee meadow bumble bees.  I finally learned that a bumblebee’s entire abdomen is hairy while a carpenter bee is smooth on the rear.

Just as I expected, the bee balms, mountain mints and other wildflowers in the Bee Meadow are attracting some interesting critters and bringing them in close so I can learn.

Bee balm and the other wildflowers mentioned here have a delicate appearance when in bloom.  But they are tough. They will grow in full Mississippi sun without irrigation in 100 degree plus temperatures.

And… they even thrive in areas that are regularly burned.


 

 



 

The Late Narcissii

'Geranium' glows in the late afternoon light in Thera Lou Adam's field.

It is with great sadness that I report that I am getting down to the last of the daffodils here at my place.

It has been a beautiful daffodil season but everything bloomed early.  The American Daffodil Society met in Jackson last week and I’m sure the garden tours had very few dafs in bloom.

The remaining few in bloom in my garden now are beautiful and precious.  They are, of course, my current favorites.

I am much enamored of the bunch flowered ‘Geranium’.    Her creamy petals seem to glow in unison with her radiant orange cup.

The poet’s narcissus (Narcissus poeticus) is an ancestor of  ‘Geranium’.  This would account for her late flowering, shade tolerance and the deeper orange rim that accents her flower cups.

Hawera blooms under my 100' white oak with Lenten rose and trillium.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my dear sweet little ‘Hawera’.  She is a diminutive lemony beauty.   One of her parents is Little Sweetie (Narcisssus jonquilla) and the Angel’s Tears Narcissus (Narcissus triandrus) is the other.

‘Hawera’ is tiny with pale yellow nodding blossoms.  Right now her slender emerald green foliage is crowned by masses of dainty blooms.

I have planted ‘Hawera’ all around my place because like ‘Geranium’ and ‘Thalia’ she blooms well in shade.

I often spec ‘Hawera’ in landscape plans if the client objects to yellowing daffodil foliage.  ‘Hawera’ leaves are so small that when the dormant season approaches, they seem to just dissolve.

'Thalia' blooms with the Louisiana phlox beneath my flowering dogwood.

And then there is the strikingly elegant Thalia.  I loved her first because she always bloomed with the dogwoods.  This year not so much.

Still ‘Thalia’s pristine white flowers remind me of a pair of orchids.  Like ‘Hawera’ her Angel’s Tears parents bequeathed a nodding chalice shaped cup and back-swept cyclamen like petals.

Are these tardy dafs beloved because they are among the last?

Or because all three will take some shade?

Or because all are heirlooms with evidence of their wild narcissus parentage?

Or is it because they are just swell plants?

I’m not sure but I am really digging them.

I do know that this morning as I gathered a few stems for a small bouquet, they prompted a Robert Herrick moment.

This morning's bouquet of 'Thalia', 'Geranium' and 'Hawera'

The charm of these beauties is apparent when photographed against a black background.

In the 1600’s Herrick wrote a poem called “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”.

I probably remember it because in the 70’s these lines were used as a justification for free love!

I remember it now for different reasons.  It goes like this –

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying….”

 

And so this morning I gathered my daffodils while I might.

I arranged them in an ikebana vase that was a gift from my friend Denice.

Then, on a whim, I photographed them against a black background.  Because, after all, they too will soon pass.


 

 

 

 

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