Monday, May 17, 2010

Shades of Red

O my luve's like a red, red rose.
That's newly sprung in June;
O my luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

—Robert Burns

Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore and the caves,
In the saline air from the sea in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for base and accompaniment low and
With crackling blows of axes sounding musically driven
by strong arms,
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes, there in
the redwood forest dense,
I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.

—Walt Whitman, from Song of the Redwood Tree

Red was my father's favorite color. The red flowers that I grow in my garden are partly in homage to him, and to his life-long love of gardening. I grow several kinds of tulips, and lilies, and roses. The daffodils and tulips are already done this year, along with most of the other early bulbs, the grape hyacinth, the crocus. Dad liked solid red tulips, bright spots of red you can see a hundred yards away in contrast to the surrounding green. I like variegated, unusual varieties of tulips. I've planted some exotics, which did well this year, with all the early and sustained rain; the red and white striped tulips, and the tall thin purple, were especially lovely. The tulips are done, the bleeding hearts are in full bloom now. The lilies are growing tall, but not yet ready to bloom. I planted several new lilies last year, which did well; now I see that most of them have split their bulbs over the winter, and in many places where I had planted one lily, there are now two or three. Gradually, given time, the garden beds will become thicker and richer, as each year the perennials return, having split or multiplied or cast new seeds. The garden beds will thicken and the colors unfold throughout the summer and autumn, so that there will always be something in bloom, something providing color, rich spots of bright color amidst the green.

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