Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Nonpolitical Post, Yet Again

I have a migraine through my right eye. I hope this garden post doesn't make you feel the same way:

Flower Beds

This last week two visitors to the house complimented me on the bed of flowers in the sun I have in my back yard. One called it pretty, the other lush. Although it is, to me at least, both of those, "lush" comes closer to its actual meaning than "pretty".

If I asked you to come and see my plants copulate, would you call this pretty? Yet copulation is what flowering most closely resembles in the animal world; a drawn-out (I hope!) foreplay or sexual display, the finding of a suitable partner, and the deed itself. The buds swell and mature, then slowly, slowly they open pushing, pushing into the sun's hot fingers. "I am here, ready and open" they whisper in alluring colors and mind-altering perfumes. "Come" they croon to the bumblebees, who obey all day long with their silky brown fur smeared yellow with pollen. What exstacy! Even deadheading is not dissimilar from cleaning up the dishevelment after a careless night on the town: the pink dress, now torn, wrinkled and smeared, needs to be gotten rid of, the hangover needs to be treated.

This view of flowering casts a new light on the old debate between people who like structured, orderly gardens with no flowers - just green trees, water and stone - and those who want flowers. I always felt that the structuralists had the higher moral or aesthetic ground, but now I am beginning to wonder if they are just prudish. I bet they would call flower beds pretty.