Autumn's Winged Blossoms
by Audrey Y. Scharmen
Now is the time of winged blossoms -- a kind of resurrection of a dying garden -- when butterflies and golden birds come to brighten an untidy plot.
I have left the dried remains of August standing in the yard to feed the goldfinches that are still raising their young. So it is that the seeding sunflowers - threadbare plants with withered petals and bowed heads, which no respectable gardener would claim - are graced daily with new yellow "flowers."
Butterflies come to cover the scars of phlox and sedum and near-nude rose bushes that send forth still a few tattered blossoms. Bouquets of monarchs and yellow swallowtails cling to the fragile stems.
Pokeberry bushes that crept into the yard in midsummer were allowed to stay. Their blight-free foliage, graceful burgundy stems and lacy white blossoms, freshen the ragged garden, and the plump purple berries are a tempting attraction for migrant birds. I once saw, alongside an autumn county road, just such a bush covered with cedar waxwings like great golden flowers. They paid me no mind when I stood just an arm's length away. I could have picked them from the branches and carried them home in a basket so sated were they with fruit.
One of my pokeberry bushes has grown in just one season to a height of 10 feet. It has the girth of a sapling and wears a disguise of white star-clematis. My neighbor eyes it anxiously as it hangs over her fence.
Winged blossoms love wild things. The clematis is full of the largest bimbo-bees I have ever seen, shiny black and yellow button blossoms. And several years ago, a late autumn vine of fox grapes draped on a loblolly beside the road attracted a rare rosy dozen of pine grosbeaks. They lingered long while I watched at close range. Later, a neighbor tidied up the easement, and the grape vines have never returned. Nor have the rosy birds.
Perhaps I will add grape vines to my garden next year -- and some milkweed, too.
So gather your bouquets of autumn blossoms while you may - of butterflies and golden birds and perhaps a ruby hummer or two. No need to tidy the garden; the black frost will tend to that much too soon.
Scharmen reflects from Leason Cove, up Miles Creek off the Patuxent River.
Tall Grasses Gone
by Detta Dymond
I'm moving out. The landlord says "the undesirable plants must go!" A small sapling, planted by the wind, A lone acanthus mistakenly growing in a foreign land, An ambitious clematis recta that perfumed the evening air And the white bonset whose plumes softened the leveled, brittle, graveled landscape. I'm leaving. The ducks and squirrels, goldfinches and fish are going too. Tall grasses no longer guard their stroll to the waterside. The branches of bushes for nesting ground have been trimmed to expose their privacy. Their tree homes are being cut down and carted of to the county landfill. And the Bay is being refilled with bleach and dioxin. I'm beheading the land. "The dandelions are to be mowed down!" No more my galaxy of tiny yellow suns whose dried seed tufts protruded from goldfinches' greedy beaks as they strutted around the yard. I'm shaving bare the water's edge. The yard is now a bad haircut, no longer graceful waves of gold, green grass, nor the resting post for reeds for small black redwings. I'm throwing out my clutter. The bouquets of buttercups, snatched up before the mower's blade and saved in water glasses, small vases and old cups and now dropping dried petals and pollen dust on table tops. I'm packing my bags. Piles of mulched dried leaves and vegetable compost, bits and pieces of land are pitched into boxes with my luggage as I must find some other place to flourish.
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VolumeVI Number 37
September 17-23, 1998
New Bay Times
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