Saturday, March 31, 2018

`I Long to Crowd the Little Garden'

By Houston standards, the winter was harsh. Many nights the temperature dropped below freezing and stayed there. We lost half the flowers and shrubs in the front yard. Some turned black and looked scorched. Others withered and never returned – dry sticks and roots. The amaryllis survived and might at any moment blossom:“To sport with Amaryllis in the shade.” Clover has proliferated – not the worst of weeds.

We spent Good Friday morning in the garden, planting flowers. We bought roses, coleus, purple haze, marigolds, plumbago (which sounds like a disease), zinnias, phlox, hostas, day lilies, garlic and lavender to counter the garlic. I remember Seamus Heaney saying that a true poet knows the names of flowers and birds. Planting and weeding are the only time I get my nails dirty and look for the scrub brush. I feel kinship with Yvor Winters. He kept a garden -- “Persimmon,walnut, loquat, fig, and grape” -  and raised goats and Airedales. He was a rare academic who remained grounded, almost literally:
“I long to crowd the little garden, gain
Its sweetness in my hand and crush it small
And taste it in a moment, time and all!”

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