My wife was looking out of the pantry window on the weekend, onto our row of Malus ‘Gorgeous’ in bloom, and after a brief discussion about their only slightly less brief flowering, she finished off with a ‘you’d never plant them for the flowers, would you!’
I was a little indignant on their behalf, and maybe a little on my own behalf, as I had planted them very substantially for their flowers. But feeling somewhat cornered by her logic, and wondering if I just live in some ridiculously romantic dream-land of flower-brevity forgiveness, I stated that I’d also had in mind that they’d contribute their fruit, at the other end of the season, but hungry rosellas put paid to that plan, eating every last one before they even begin to colour up.
That defence felt necessary in the moment. But the truth is I love these plants in flower, and I think I even love the brevity of their flowering. There are, the more I think about it, plants that mark a season, plants that mark a month, and still others – just as important, when in balance with these former categories – of plants that mark a moment.
Moments are, more than anything, what I need from my garden. In our world of climate-controlled indoor living, season-ignorant produce, and work practices that can leave one week or month indistinguishable from the next, I love that something is going on outside – some passing moment – that calls me to pay attention now. Right now.
I came home from OS last week to find another great moment-marker in bloom – the paeony known affectionately as ‘Molly the witch’ (Paeonia mlokoswitschii). It’s pale-yolky flowers only last a day or two each, and there’s no real succession of bloom. You either pay due attention in the now, or you don’t bother with it at all. Many wouldn’t bother. But I wouldn’t be without it. More on that here.
As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s one of the superpowers of gardens to have one foot in the decades, or the centuries and one foot in the moment. THIS moment. This very moment in which you’re reading this. As you’re reading, it’s possible there’s something going on in your garden that will never be repeated in quite the same way again. It calls us (without demanding) to pay attention. To stop.
Indeed, I’m going to stop, right now, and take another slow look at my Malus, in their moment.
No doubt you have your favourite ‘moment markers’. I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below. Please note that if even if you’re a subscriber, you’ll have to sign in to comment. I must see to that…