Delphiniums, those glorious petals in a gardner’s crown are not easily won. When small they can be devoured in a singl evening by a snail the size of a thumbnail. If they live past infancy, they require considerable water. They must be fertilized and protected from weeds. Once mature they boast such robust blossoms, staking is required. The supports of a delphinium are nothing of which to be ashamed. In fact, the grander the bloom, the more necessary becomes a well-structured support. The density of her blues makes the delphinium unable to stand alone. The weight of such a hue can send her crestfallen into the mud. The very process of lifting a fallen bloom can cause her to snap. A delphinium will grow improperly supported. Its color will be vivid, its scent sweet, its nectar rich. But its petals will be stained with mud.
Foxgloves and Rabbit Trails
When I first brought them from my mother’s garden, they were limp, weedlike. She called them Evening Primrose. She said they would multiply, be lovely in the Spring. I was septical. I waited. Watched. By the end of March, their tall, spindly stalks grew hips. April wrapped the hips in pink skirts. Through the afternoons and into the moonlit evenings, the pink blossoms glow. Waiting at the base of each open blossom is another, still sleeping. It springs open the moment the current blossom wilts. The performance lasts for several weeks. Each fall I give many away. I repeat my mother’s assuring speech as cynical eyes scrutinize those gaunt, bare stalks. To those who guard and weed them through the fall and winter, these early spring performers wait, once more to prove my mother right. (Excerpted from The Color of Grace:Thoughts from a Garden in a Dry Land)
…I am an urn of Adam’s skin, the thickness of a lifetime. When kicked I spill protesting blood. Each year, Spring takes a swing at bringing me around. Spring sings a resurrection song I strain to hear. A woodpecker drums its red head against a cedar pole Cumulus clouds rock in the promising wind. Gold sap pulsates in the boughs of the winter-charred oak. A robin chick sheds its itching egg. I press my ear to the earth: Dry bones, dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.