Monthly Archives: April 2009

Spring Break

I have family coming to town, so my next blog entry from my colder-than-usual Zone 6, will be Sunday, and will, hopefully, be about installing our sprinkler system.

I wanted to let you know, though, that I have not forgotten the drawing for the Teleflora Bouquet! Leave a comment here or link to the site and receive 1 or 3 entries (3 for a link). The drawing will be the morning of May 4th, and I’ll immediately send it on to the representative at Teleflora who is waiting for the winner.

Their blog is here Teleflora Blog. And their site is here: Teleflora.

Good luck and I hope your gardens are growing well wherever you are in the world.


Death of a Flower

It bloomed and dropt, a Single Noon-
The Flower-distinct and Red- (or pink my case)
I, passing, thought another Noon
Another in its stead

Will equal glow, and thought no More
But came another Day
To find the Species disappeared-
The Same Locality-

The Sun in place-no other fraud
On Nature’s perfect Sum-
Had I but lingered Yesterday-
Was my retrieveless blame-

Much Flowers of this and further Zones
Have perished in my Hands
For seeking its Resemblance-
But unapproached it stands-

The single Flower of the Earth
That I, in passing by
Unconscious was-Great Nature’s Face
Passed infinite by Me-

Emily Dickinson, 978, year 1864

Good-bye Bleeding Heart–though I did not know you long, I loved you well.


And, I don’t know if my Geraniums are actually dead or not.


I was told yesterday that here in Spokane, Zone 6, the rule of thumb is–Don’t plant until after Mother’s Day or when the snow on Mt. Spokane has melted.

My first loss. Have you ever had a particularly painful garden loss? The most painful for me would probably if I lost my Magnolia tree.

Late April Garden

Morning-is the place for Dew
Corn-is made at Noon-
After dinner light-for flowers
Dukes-for setting sun!

Emily Dickinson

April 24, 2009
Weather: After a sunny, warm week, the cold weather has returned–low 30s in the morning–50’s in the day. Sun is shining. No rain since we planted the hay.

Things are going well on our back project. We got everything planted, felted, and barked. (The truck won’t be there permanently!)


The little Magnolia tree just burst out with blooms. Isn’t it sweet?


I planted new Honeysuckle in planters, but I’m hoping to transplant them into a sunny spot over a fence soon. (First, a fence must be installed).

Honeysuckle, according to my book, The poetry of Flowers, means “the bonds of love”. If you’ve ever grown it, you know how it wraps around whatever it is near.

Marta says in her book, Emily Dickinson’s Gardens, that Emily and Vinnie would spend time training it around their arbor.


I’m also starting to plant the pots with flowers, like these Geraniums. I hope that wasn’t premature, considering we got a frost last night.


Here is an herb you may want to consider for Mother’s Day. Cinquefoil.


From The Poetry of Flowers:

“Parental Love: Cinquefoil. In rainy weather, the leaves of this plant incline themselves over its flowers, forming a kind of canopy, or parapluie. It is gratifying to see a tender mother watching with anxious care the unfolding of a beloved daughter’s mind and character.

When love rejects and friends forsake,
A parent, though their heart may break,
From that fond heart will never tear
The child, whose last retreat is there.

Ellen Fitzarthur.”

Do you know of any plants that may be well-suited for a Mother’s Day gift–a sweet reminder that will return year after year?

Poetry & Flowers



Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

Louise Gluck, from her book, The Wild Iris

I think in the spirit of Emily Dickinson, and growing gardens with poetic meaning, all poetry is fitting, and so, I’d like to add another book of poems to my garden–Louise Gluck’s, The Wild Iris, the Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry in 1993.

It has been a few years since I read it, but as one of my favorites, I opened it up again and found this poem about Snowdrops (above). I think when I first read it I assumed she was talking about snowflakes, rather than a flower, but now I know better.

She has another book I’ve just started–Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry. And, she has a number of other books of poetry. The Wild Iris is my favorite.

The Pulitzer Prizes were recently announced and the winner for poetry is W.S. Merwin for In the Shadow of Sirius. It’s his second win–the first being The Carrier of Ladders in 1970. I’ve ordered the book–which is out of stock on Amazon waiting to be published in a second edition. You still have the opportunity to purchase it in first edition if you’re interested. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t make a personal recommendation. Generally, I agree with the Pulitzers. One of my favorite books of poetry ever–Claudia Emerson’s, Late Wife–won a few years ago, and that’s how I found the book. I’m excited about Merwin’s work. I have high hopes. Here is a review from Publisher’s Weekly:

The nuanced mysteries of light, darkness, temporality, and eternity interweave throughout Merwin’s newest collection of poems. “I have only what I remember,” he admits, and his memories are focused and profound — well-cultivated loves, the distinct qualities of autumnal light, memories of Pennsylvania miners, a conversation with a boyhood teacher, and “our long evenings and astonishment.” From the universe’s chiaroscuro shadows, Merwin once again calls upon the language of surprise to illuminate existence. He is writing at the peak of his powers.

I also received my 1850 book, The Poetry of Flowers, which I mentioned earlier. It’s a small book, but in very good condition. I have to read through it delicately, but what a joy! The notes that someone took in it over one hundred years ago–WOW!! I love old books! And that was a rare find–on my birthday, no less. What a gift. And, it fits so perfectly with this gardening journey!

I was going to write about possible Mother’s Day Gifts today, and what they mean symbolically, but I’ll do that tomorrow instead since I’ve gotten side-tracked. We still have plenty of time to put together a thoughtful gift for our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters–whichever mothers we honor on May 9th. This is a good time to begin thinking about it, and I’ll look forward to your memories and suggestions tomorrow.

My mom reads this blog, so there’ll be no surprises for her on Mother’s Day! We’ve often bought my mom flowers for her garden as gifts. However, this year it will be more than just a pretty flower.

If you live out of town or want to go with cut flowers–you might consider Teleflora–and you have a chance to win a beatiful bouquet on this blog by leaving comments and/or linking to your site. (1 entry for every comment and 3 for linking to your site. You can earn 3 entries every time you link.) So, link up with us and join the discussion about creating a poetic garden–a special place to be!

Questions for today–Do you have a favorite book of poetry? A favorite poem? What are your thoughts about poetry and gardening? Do you write your own? Is there a book of poems you’d like to add to your garden?

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)


Love’s stricken “why”
Is all that love can speak-
Built of but just a syllable
The hugest hearts that break.

Emily Dickinson (1368, year 1876)

The Bleeding Heart is a shade-loving plant. It blooms in April/May and then disappears mid-summer–leaving an open spot in your garden. Marta McDowell warns us to mark them well, lest we accidentally uproot them after they’ve gone.

Their beauty–the pink drooping hearts–and their absence–is like “young love”, she says. And, it seems to be true, since who can’t remember all the great “loves” of our lives that have come and gone when we were young.

I planted two together a few days ago. They’re in partial shade. I’ll need to plant something else around them, possibly Hostas, to make up for their disappearance when they are done blooming.

Though the term “bleeding heart” has come to mean excessive emotion–I prefer to think of it as having a heart at all–and using it, sometimes, to guide us. It’s better to be accused of loving someone or something too much than not loving them at all. I don’t know too many people who complain–Hey, you LOVE me too much!

That’s not to say that “Love” equals “spoil”–spoiling something we love can do it harm–like overwatering a plant or overfeeding a dog (or horse). Love means doing the best for them–even if it’s not what we wanted. And, if you’ve raised children you know, sometimes what is best for them is hard for us.

If you’ve lived and loved, you’ve probably experienced a bleeding heart–an emptiness–a letting go. This is a wonderful flower to symbolize just that thing–all the many, many times our hearts have been broken.

I have a few losses I will think of when I look out at them.

What do you think of the Bleeding Heart? Do you have any experience with them?

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered into the Bouquet Giveaway! Every comment is another entry.



Glowing in her bonnet-
Glowing in her cheek-
Glowing is her Kirtle-
Yet she cannot speak.

Better as the Daisy
From the summer hill
Vanish unrecorded
Save by tearful rill-

Save by loving sunrise
Looking for her face.
Save by feet unnumbered
Pausing at the place.

Emily Dickinson

These are my Columbine I planted this Spring–the 10th anniversary of Columbine.


My children think it’s simply a flower–and nothing else. And that makes me very happy.


Because no flower should come to mean something other than what it is–hope, love, rebirth, survival, and beauty. Emily loved this flower–which grew in the New England woodlands. She grew it in her own garden.


I have these wonderful Columbine in my garden this year. They are lovely. I hope to get to know them better through many seasons in this home. And I hope that one day, like my kids, I only see the flower.

Indian Pipe–The Most Amazing Flower

White as an Indian Pipe
Red as a Cardinal Flower
Fabulous as a Moon at Noon
February Hour–

Emily Dickinson (1250, year 1873)

Have you ever seen Indian Pipe–white and waxy–growing like some walking dead thing under the pines? It’s gorgeous and haunting. Its other name is “corpse plant”, so that should give you some idea of what you think when you first see it!

A long, long time ago and far away (2 hour drive from here) I used to collect wildflowers. I had a backpack filled with everything for hiking and collecting–first aid kit (which I used to help strangers, btw), a wild flower field guide, and a small flower press I’d made myself and painted. (No digital camera back then :().

Well, one day I came across this flower.


I like to use the word “love” a lot when describing my feelings toward any plant that just instantly captures my heart and imagination, but it’s true–I was in love. I wanted to pick it, and press it, and take it home. (As Emily did).

However, if you’ve seen these, too, you know that when you pick them they get back at you by turning black! I even tried to put them on ice so that they would stay white long enough for me to get them home and show them to others–but no.

Emily Dickinson’s first book of poetry, published posthumously, has this flower on the cover. It was one of her favorite, if not very favorite, wild flower. Farr’s books says toward the end of her life Mrs. Todd (Emily’s brother’s long-term lover) painted her a picture of these flowers and she wrote back her thanks, “That without suspecting it you should send me the preferred flower of life, seems almost supernatural, and the sweet glee that I felt at meeting it, I could confide to none” (L769).

Here is a picture of the book:


On pages 172, 173, and 174 of Marta McDowell’s book, Emily Dickinson’s Gardens, she talks in length about the Indian Pipe. Besides discussing its importance to Emily, she also gives a primer on the flower itself. “The Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is an unusal plant, visually and botanically. It looks like a waxy albino stem of lily of the valley, completely white and leafless….it is an angio sperm, a flower plant, but one incapable of photosynthesis. Unlike the green growing things around it, it can’t manufacture its own food but relies on symbiotic relationships.” McDowell wonders if this is not very much like the Woman in White, Emily, and her reclusive life at her home in Amherst. (174)

I bring this flower up on my own gardening blog, not because I have any growing on my property–if only–but because I found another wildflower yesterday growing in the pasture and I stopped to take a picture. I’m not sure what it is–some Lupine perhaps? But what a pretty addition from seemingly no where.


Are there wildflowers at your homes–surrounding woods? Any special ones that you look forward to? Have you seen the Indian Pipe?

Please leave a comment and I’ll enter you to the drawing on May 4th.