Book of Marvels
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The Beauty of Limited Vision

Most of my garden looks wretched these days. The hydrangea blossoms have turned beige--who wants that? Who even wants to say it? The monarda are covered with powdery mildew and the Alma Ploshke (or whatever) asters are disappointing for the twelfth year in a row. I never manage to cut them back severely enough earlier in the season at the required two times. Now, they're too tall and flop to the ground--as they always do. There are some small consolations. I will no longer disparage dahlias--I mean my own, not the astounding beauties at the farmers market. I grumbled about mine all year and pulled a few up, because they didn't seem to be doing anything but making big leaves. Now I see that one which escaped my fury by growing sideways behind a rose bush is emerging with some lovely big shiraz-colored blooms.

But for the most part, if I want to enjoy my garden, I have to look at the small spots where all is well. Here by the path to the front door, the false dragonhead have opened and intermingled with what I thought was an annual (now I'm hoping it's not) called Mona Lavender Plectranthus. As its tag claims, it has beautiful purple stems and leaf undersides--almost black in some lights--with deep lavender flowers. And it just looks great with the false dragonhead (how I love that name!) and has for over a week.

The news from outside my little world is so bad this week-- from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from the schools where wackos have been kiling kids. From the prisons on any ordinary day. The Plain Dealer ran an article this morning that made me weep about the tiny and intimate details that are recorded in logs of death row prisoners' final days. I suppose it's fine and natural and necessary to find consolation the small lovely details of my life--and on the whole, it's a good life--but I sometimes feel a little guilty taking pleasure anywhere when there are so many awful things going on.

Don't tell me that this comes from a Catholic upbringing! Guilt is catholic, not Catholic. Posted by Picasa
Yes, I only have the little spots of garden left, too. And I'm inclined to plunder them in October to bring in the last cut flowers, fresh flowers before the world goes white.
I made some outrageous bouquets yesterday with hydrangeas (mine have changed color to a deep, russety pink) and zinnas and wild asters. Also brought in half a dozen green tomatoes and a flock of cherry tomatoes.
I could make a nice bouquet with some of my hydrangeas-- there are a few that turned red. But the pinkish-blue-ish ones that used to be so gorgeous a few years ago have decided to go ugly and stay ugly, it seems.

I need to dig up my rosemary and bring it in. Wish I could do the same for my thyme, but it's mostly gone. It was so good! Its last use was in a big healing pot of soup-- I just snipped off most of the plant and threw it in the pot. None of that tedious stripping of the leaves from the stems, which although tedious makes my fingertips so fragrant.
Hi, Kristin. So happy to find you here via bloglily. I didn't know you had a blog!
Your post makes me think about how autumn comes in with the last summer pleasures (the last good tomatoes, the last nice berries, the last stone fruit) and how that's an echo of other, harder, endings. So maybe it's not so much guilt over small pleasures you're experiencing, but some knowledge that they'll be gone at some point. And what's happening in the world is another hard reminder of those kinds of endings. I suppose that's why there are autumnal celebrations like Halloween and Day of the Dead to hold that at bay. I loved hearing about your garden, by the way. I've not had time to do anything in our wild yard, but someday...
Really enjoyed reading about yr. garden as mine is calling to me from neglect since i've been banned from yardwork because of tendonitis.
Welcome, patry, BL, and rdl!

On gardening: I came back from a weekend in central Ohio convinced that I must have red cockscomb next year. I had it once before, grown from gleaming black seeds shaken out of someone else's garden. I don't know why I let it die out. But it was so gorgeous yesterday, especially in this apple-cidery sunshine that makes everything gorgeous.

In fact, I told my husband-- quick, you need to take my picture today, just in case I ever need one for a book jacket again. This is the day!
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