AS I REMEMBER (though I was not there, actually) the peach trees were all in bloom at bloody Shiloh, and I never see them now without thinking of that time then, when so many wounded dragged down to the horse pond to drink, making the water red.
I never saw an apple tree until I went off to school in another country, because we never had any apples and I grew up missing that curious affection most people seem to have for apple trees in bloom.
For me, it is the peaches. They bloom in various tints of pink, but the one most of us like best is medium deep with a good bit of blue in it. Against the blue March or April sky, it is ravishing.
What a pleasure I have had already this year from my peachtree. 'Dawn,' which has five flower buds, colored by March 16, and my young 'Belle,' which is not much bigger than a stake of pea brushwood, but is thick with buds.
he persians, in those admirable small paintings they used to make and keep in albums to pore over, never tired of painting cypresses with peach tree branches in bloom entwined with the dark conifer.
In the foreground there were usually men and women, or else men setting off to hunt.
The cypress lasts forever, always composed and always green, always articulated ans aspiring. But the peach lasts less than a week in her beauty, and has none of that controlled and grave dignity of the cypress.
The peach tree sort of grows sideways, not caring much for elegance of outline. Yet what a day it is in the gardener's life when she gets herself up in her silks, and for a few days (if weather proves kind) we have perfection in a flowering plant, opulence without vulgarity, magnificence without corruption, richness without any excess.
As for pear trees, there is nothing more impressive in bloom, all white, and I like their smell, too, a little like fish and (needless to say) lacking that somewhat chemical scent of the apple blossom that smells like tear gas. But apples and pears, however beautiful, say nothing at all of the warm South or the bright East. It is the peach, not the others, that the Chinese and the Persians treasured, and there is something right in the judgement that ranks the peach blooming above the rest.
So much for that. Now the eremurus that is the most beautiful of tha foxtail lilies is E. robuses, so named, I presume, because it is so delicate.
Forgive the irony, but off and on for years I have tried to grow it. It sends up a great stalk higher that a man like a rocket exploding all at once for the top third of its flight. Or should.
Hundreds of small rose-colored florets adorn the stem, like a tritoma or torch-lily. The plant comes from Afghanistan and other bleak Asian places where it is cold in winter, brilliantly sunny and windswept, and dry in summer.
The main trouble with it in gardens is that it sends up its soft and fleshy new growth long before our winter is done, and is often (with me, always) frozen.
Any fool can grow this plant, as I often console myself, and once it is happily situated it grows with no more trouble than a dock. It should be given a north exposure, some say, while others say the opposite - grow it on a south slope, they say. Grow it in heavy clay, some say, while others say it needs sandy loam.
I do not think soil or exposure is the problem. Other gardeners grow it any which way.
This year we had a Central Asian winter, I believe, and the eremurus is just now poking through the earth, and may, for a change, be safe. That is what I have always said, and by now I should know better. How strange that some people grow rarities without even thinking. Others, alas, are not even allowed by the gods to have their litle ewe lamb (as the Bible puts it) or one eremurus. It is little enough to ask.
Gardeners, contrary to what you may read elsewhere, are among the most obnoxious whiny folk, accepting an endless cornucopia of treasures as no more than their take-off point, but prepared at all times to snivel if their carelessness or sloth or inexperience leads to failure with an eremurus. Or whatever.
Garden writers are the worst. They not only get to whine a lot, but also get to rebuke ingratitude in the next paragraph.
I thank God I never complain, myself. Be grateful for the dandelions, I always say.
This may be the place to express my wonder that I have no chickweed this year, having followed my directions for eliminating it last year. This absence of chickweed means, probably, that the stars will fall by June and the rivers dry up.
This may also be the place to say I have never known any city to behave worse than this one over the loss this winter of a few wretched evergreen privets, which were never worth planting to begin with, and a few Japanese hollies, ditto.
You would not believe the carrying on. As spring, true spring, approaches (I expect itno later than June 24) sound reason may return. Of course, some gardeners have had true griefs and failure of er*emuri, and they should be comforted in all ways possible.