From my nonfiction collection, Shenandoah Watercolors.


The Alleghenies are shrouded in mist this morning and the colors muted. Columbine blooms outside my kitchen window, a mass of pink bells. I’ve planted all kinds of columbine because it’s one of my absolute favorites. I have the red-yellow woods variety too and the blue one from Colorado. The roses beside the old, red barn are so big and thorny, like guardians of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and badly need pruning.

I’ve a sea of herbs and flowers ever changing with the season. Some perennials are lost each winter and new ones are planted by me and my nature child, Elise; still others by the birds. One wild aster, carried to us on the wind, blooms in late spring. The robust plants are covered with small white flowers and very pretty really, although difficult to contain. I'm partial to white flowers, glowing at dusk while all else fades.

Several plants reign supreme because of Elise. ‘Magic flowers,’ yellow evening primrose, have taken over a generous quadrant at the edge of the vegetable garden. She rushes me out at twilight to view the wonder as they pop open, charging the air with fragrance. Hummingbird moths swoop in like little fairies to feed on the blossoms.

Dill is also rampant because black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on its leaves and hatch into little caterpillars which she watches closely, puts some into jars and feeds until they make a chrysalis. Then one day they emerge with wet crumpled wings and she releases them to the sky. I feel a bit like those uncertain butterflies, taking those first tentative flights.

Elise showed me where the robin is tucked down in her nest in one of the crabapple trees. She knows where the soft, brown dove nests in the pear, where the six goslings are at any given moment, and is on the prowl for the new kittens, but that wily mother cat has hidden them well.

Author's note: Elise, now in college, still loves the garden(s) and is my right hand. This pic is one taken of our farm.

12 comments

  1. Jan // July 19, 2008 at 11:12 AM  

    Beth, I love columbine too! I have some in my front flower garden. Your garden sounds lovely!

  2. Beth Trissel // July 19, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

    Thanks Jan. Elise asked me if I had to choose one flower as my favorite which one would it be. An impossible call of course, but columbine won.

  3. Nightingale // July 19, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

    I wonder if Columbine would grow in the Houston heat.

    A magical posting. I was there, each sense engaged. Elise sounds like a wood nymph.

  4. Anonymous // July 19, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

    Nice, Beth. Your landscape looks like something you'd see in a gardening magazine. Have you sent this article to one to see about publication?

    I love gardening too. I'll suddenly feel the need to garden when I should be writing. Talk about procrastination! Really, though, I tend to get ideas when pulling weeds. Besides, gardening is a good excuse for being a kid and getting to play in the dirt!
    Julie

  5. C.J. Redwine // July 19, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

    As always, your incredible talent for descriptions leaves me in awe.

  6. Anonymous // July 19, 2008 at 2:32 PM  

    Wonderful description. You could teach me a thing or two.

    Elaine Cantrell

  7. Beth Trissel // July 19, 2008 at 2:39 PM  

    I entirely agree, Julie. Gardening is a good excuse for many things and cleanses the spirit.
    Thanks ladies. I revel in description and have had to learn when to rope myself in.

  8. Mary Ricksen // July 19, 2008 at 3:33 PM  

    There is something special about a nature lover and her secret garden.
    Your imagery is wonderful. For a second I was there! And to me, that is what writing is all about.

  9. Mary Marvella // July 20, 2008 at 12:55 AM  

    Magic in your words, pure magic!

  10. Joanne // July 20, 2008 at 8:18 AM  

    Beautiful descriptions, Beth. You take the ordinary, and make it extraordinary.

  11. Beth Trissel // July 20, 2008 at 11:57 PM  

    Thanks Joanne and both marvelous Mary's. :)

  12. Pamela Varnado // July 21, 2008 at 11:24 AM  

    Thanks, you just gave me a great idea of a location for my next family vacation. I found the imagery in your writing relaxing.