Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In Defiance, And Of Henry Mitchell

I got home late tonight, chatted with le boyfriend, ate and then headed to the garden for a second glass of wine and an opportunity to unwind. I found that some new golden oregano plants were looking a little wilty. This is a amazing as yesterday was overcast and the night was off and on rain. Today was a little spotty. How could something need MORE water? Nevertheless, facts are facts and I grabbed my watering can and started lifting and toting.

That is when I spotted the Rose Chafer Beetles in my peonies. This is the first year that I have had peonies blossom and not be defiled by this vile insect. My Scarlett O'Hara was spectacular, the Seashell glorious, but then things fell apart. The other unnamed peonies now look flea bitten. I know what comes next-mushy brown blossoms full of bugs taking a drag off a shared Pall Mall while asking each other if "it was good for you?"

Just that morning, despite my rush to get out the door, I picked up the book I was reading and finished the chapter while standing up. It is Henry Mitchell's "The Essential Earthman." He died 15 years ago and this will be the third time I have read this book, but he is one of my favorite garden writers. The chapter is called On The Defiance of Gardeners and ended thusly:
Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of Nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. It sounds very well to garden a "natural way." You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, any leech-filled laurel hell. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners.

I know it is fruitless, but I start the process of rooting through the blossoms and crushing the beetles till my fingers are sticky and stained and their jointed legs are stuck under my nails. I can't stop them... at best I might slow them. But I need to try to save my beautiful peonies.

And I will do it all over again next year.....defiantly.

5 comments:

Jozet at Halushki said...

"...their jointed legs are stuck under my nails"

If I borrow that line for a poem, do I need to pay you royalties? Because that line is super excellent.

SMC said...

As long as you send me a copy of the poem, I don't care. Although I am having a hard time imagining a poem that THAT particular line would fit into.

LYC said...

Their jointed legs are stuck under my nails.
Serves them right!
Now I laugh at their misfortune.
Now I see the railing goes both ways....

I too found yucky beetles fornicating in Wally's plum tree. I became angry, I railed! I sprayed! I enjoyed watching them fall to the ground and chortled at their gasping.

Michelle said...

Pall Malls? I didn't know beetles lived on the seedy side of town, thank you for the image...can't get it out!

SMC said...

My mother smaked Pall Malls for a while. Her other brand was Tarytons, but I bet no one remembers them..... and then there were the Dorals.