Tag Archives: magnolia

Late April Flowers & Sharon Olds’ Poetry






Busy spring. My Real Sisters Talk radio show is keeping me busy. Add to that my volunteer work (which always picks up in spring), a wedding, a graduation, injured horses, opening a new practice and gardening. Honestly, there hasn’t been a whole lot of gardening.

I’m reading a wonderful collection of poems by Sharon Olds, Stag’s Leap, which just won the Pulitzer for Poetry. They’re poems about her divorce fifteen years ago. Pretty amazing work. I am so ashamed/before my friends–to be known to be left/by the own who supposedly knew me best. Like all of her poetry–honest, vulnerable.

From Telling My Mother:

I took her on a walk, taking her fleshless
hand like a passerine’s claw, I bought her
a doughnut and a hairnet, I fed her. On the gnarled
magnolia, in the fog, the blossoms and buds were like
all the moons in one night–full,
gibbous, crescent. I’d practiced the speech,
bringing her up toward the truth slowly,
preparing her. And the moment I told her,
she looked at me in shock and dismay.
But when will I ever seem him again?

The Pleasure With Trees: Magnolia

O the farmer’s joys!
Ohioan’s, Illinoisian’s, Wisconsinese’, Kanadian’s, Iowan’s, Kansian’s, Missourian’s, Oregonese’ joys; …
To train orchards—to graft the trees—to gather apples in the fall.

O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard—the forest—the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree,
The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) from Poem of Joys–Leaves of Grass

My Royal Star Magnolia is living inside with us until after the last freeze.

In the Victorian era, it was associated with the symbolism: Peerless and Proud. The South.

In the book, The Poetry of Flowers, it says, “Of this splendid family of trees the American continent has many species. They are distinguished by their rich, smooth foliage, large, fragrant flowers, and aromatic bark. Some of them are of very exalted stature, taking rank with the highest tenants of the wood.’ In the Southern states, whole groves of the magnificent magnolia grandiflora are found scenting the air for miles around, with their rich and delicious fragrance. The large white leaf of the flower often serves the romantic southern youth for paper. He pricks upon it with a needle or pin the passionate thoughts of his heart, and commits his perfumed billetdoux to the care of zephyr to be wafted to the feet of his ladye-love.”

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?