Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fragrance: Dianthus and Don

Dianthus & Don

This evening was designed for sitting on the front-porch glider, shelling peanuts as the temperature eased toward 70 and a gentle breeze rustled through the purple-leaf plum trees that cast shadows longer than the trees are tall.

Straight ahead of me two flowering kousa dogwoods framed a birdless bluebird box because this year a pair built their nest in the “white box” in the backyard and already have three blue eggs there.  Nearer me the first dark-blue Siberian iris blooms, a gift of Cindy S., a Howard County Master Gardener.

To my right, in, hopefully, a deer-proof fortress of iron stakes and welded wire, pink rhododendron blossoms proclaim, “This is our best weekend,” as lavender azalea petals loosen and float to the pine-bark mulch.  Nearby a Knockout rose lofts buds that promise future visual delight, and lingering bleeding-heart flowers bob in the freeze.

'Our best weekend'
To my left, bright-blue delicate brunnera flowers and miniature yellow trumpets of corydalis—gifts of Pat H., another Master Gardener, say, “Enjoy every day of May,” while pink, blue, and purple columbine flowers arch over their leaves—gifts of Pennsylvania cousins Curt and Jean W.

A high-school teacher once defined a “weed” as a flower growing where someone doesn’t want it to grow.  I don’t have any weeds.  I let flowers grow wherever they wish—usually—and, of course, as long as they aren’t real weeds.  I hate to uproot them with my hoe or Cape Cod weeder.  I prefer to let them grow—or share them with fellow gardeners.

As the wind shifted slightly on this May evening, a fragrance surrounded me.  I inhaled deeply. It was sweet and spicy.  It was from the patches of dianthus hunkering by our hardy ground orchids, a deer-resistant perennial recommended by Irene M., another Master Gardener.  I wondered how such small dianthus flowers can perfume such a wide area.

My mind wondered to two friends, Don and Joyce O.  Ellen and I have known them for half a century.

Sometimes a flower says it all
You know that kind of friends ...  classmates at high school or college … young families with children about the same ages … later, as empty nesters, chatting over dinner at Sierra’s Grill or enjoying plays at Olney Theatre or concerts at Wolf Trap or Strathmore Music Center. 

For years Don raised black raspberries in their back yard and prepared a quart of “concentrate” each summer that I made into a gallon of black-raspberry ice cream for late-summer gatherings of friends.

A month or so ago Don, a rose grower, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.  With our tears on Friday we mourned his passing.

I sat on our porch and inhaled the fragrance of the dianthus, but that spicy sweetness was overpowered by an even greater fragrance—memories of Don, husband of Joyce, father of Don Jr., Allison, and Karen, grandfather of four, noted scientist, our friend.

1 comment:

  1. Together with Grazyna I join you in remembering Don. We knew him as a teacher and a scientist, We knew him as our brother. Your masterful piece (again) brought to us a remembering him as a fellow-gardener. We can smelt the fragrance of his black raspberries and roses. Thank you, Bob, for being so vivid in your words, Master Wordsmith! Our thoughts go to Joyce and the family.

    --Grazyna and Ray Dabrowski