Eudora Welty Pens a Gardener’s Plea

Someone forgot to wipe his chin when he left the flower bed!

Having praised the creativity, intelligence, and playfulness of our squirrels, it seems only fair to give equal time to an opposing opinion: that the creatures roaming our neighborhoods are sneaky and destructive, not to mention determined to wreak havoc on our gardens and our homes.

Gardens are especially vulnerable, as American author Eudora Welty knew. Like Emily Dickinson, Welty loved her gardens as well as her writing. The garden at her home, designed and created in 1925 by her mother, Chestina Welty, is maintained today by garden restoration consultant Susan Haltom and a group of volunteers who have brought the garden back to its 1925-1945 glory.

A book detailing the garden’s history, One Writer’s Garden, includes a parody of William Blake’s poem “The Tyger.” Welty wrote the parody herself, attached it to a stick, then posted it in her garden as a warning and a plea. Even as a squirrel lover, I have to admire the humor.

Squirrel, squirrel, burning bright,
Do not eat my bulbs tonight!
I think it bad and quite insidious
That you eat my blue Tigridias.
Squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris,
Leave to me my small Muscaris;
Must you make your midnight snack, mouse,

Of Narcissus Mrs. Backhouse?
When you bite the pure Leucojum,
Do you feel no taint of odium?
Must you chew till Kingdom Come
Hippeastrum advenum?
If in your tummy bloomed a lily,
Wouldn’t you feel sort of silly?
Do you wish to tease and joke us
When you carry off a crocus?
Must you hang up in your pantries
All my Pink Queen Zephyranthes?
Tell me, has it ever been thus,
Squirrels eat the Hyacinthus?
O little rodent —
I wish you wo’dn’t!

Comments always are welcome.

Who’s Got the Button(bush)?

Buttonbush flowers and developing seed head


The children’s game called “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?” isn’t complicated. One child, carrying a hidden button, appears to transfer it into the waiting hands of every other child standing or sitting in a circle. Then, everyone tries to guess who actually received the button.

The flowers of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis ) wouldn’t do so well for the game; they’re both too large and too delicate. Still, they’re as attractive as the plant is useful. Commonly found in wet open areas, low woods, thickets, swamps, river bottoms and stream or pond edges, buttonbush can live in up to 2 feet of water. This combination of blooming flowers and developing seed head was perched at the edge of a small lake near the Watson Rare Plant Preserve in east Texas; one of my own feet was planted in the water as I took the photo.

Though tolerant of shade, buttonbush blooms most profusely in full sun. The pincushion-like flowers — actually one-inch round ball-like clusters of white blooms — provide nectar for a variety of bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, and beetles, and an assortment of birds are known to visit. Its seeds are favored by waterfowl, and some mammals feed on its twigs.

Widely distributed across the eastern half of the United States, this easy-to-grow native makes a fine addition to gardens and landscapes where moist to wet conditions prevail, although some have found it capable of adapting to drier areas. Its fruits, deep red and sometimes glossy, will last throughout the fall.

Pond Creek Wildlife Management Area ~ Northwest Arkansas


Comments always are welcome.

Eat Your Veggies, but Admire Them, Too

Summer squash blossom (Cucurbita spp.)

Our native wildflowers are beautiful, but there’s no need for the flowers of our squash, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant to feel inferior to the Coreopsis and Gaillardia.

During a peach-picking trip to a local farm, I took time to walk the rows of ripening produce and found myself especially charmed by the squash blossoms. They resemble slices of cut cantaloupe: another member of the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd family, that will be appearing in farmers’ markets soon, and the flowers themselves are edible.


Comments always are welcome.

The Dream of Now

Iris virginica ~ Brazoria county


When you wake to the dream of now
from night and its other dream,
you carry day out of the dark
like a flame.
When spring comes north, and flowers
unfold from earth and its even sleep,
you lift summer on with your breath
lest it be lost ever so deep.
Your life you live by the light you find
and follow it on as well as you can,
carrying through darkness wherever you go
your one little fire that will start again.
                                       “The Dream of Now” ~ William Stafford


Comments always are welcome.