Saturday, July 19, 2008

Buddleia Poem

Butterfly Bush

I used to love the buddleia,
its long purple trumpets in summer
buzzing with hummingbirds and butterflies,

until someone told me it was common,
invasive, a weed —

its withered flower cones
spilling armies of seedlings
to colonize the neighborhood.

Then I was embarrassed to have loved it.

I began to see its offspring sprouting
everywhere, hated how they rooted
between loose bricks, flourished
from cracks in the sidewalk.

So I cut mine back to nothing,
buried the broken stump —

only to find it returned
the next spring, multiplied.

And though I hated it
then, a part of me wanted it
to live. So I resolved to remove

the spent flowers, trim the branches.
Each autumn its size diminished,
and each spring an open

relaxed shape returning.
Its abundance held in check.

And now I love the buddleia
again as before,
but by second nature —
as one who returns to the garden
after the fall.

--Peter Pereira


Anonymous said...

Oh, it's wisteria here for me. It's horrid - but when it blooms in the spring, I forgive it of all it's past sins - and just enjoy the fragrance.

Nice to come here and find this - thank you.

Robin Ripley said...

Lovely. But it's okay to love a weed. Don't be shy. Shout out your unconventional and politically incorrect love!

I love purslane! No...wait.

Gardening Examiner

Unknown said...

I have this relationship with a few plants... but unlike Peter, I know that I will not be diligent enough (or I am afraid that I will not be diligent enough) to keep the thugs from reseeding. So I usually end up tearing them out--no reblooming love affairs for me.

Victoria Summerley said...

I adore buddleia. Any buddleia. I like the deep purple ones, the dark red ones, the white ones, those orangey-peachy ones, and the ones that grow in neglected guttering and brickwork. Can I get it to grow in my garden? Can I hell.

Anonymous said...

Yes! The gardener's dilemma!!! I've always been sorry I didn't have the guts to grow purple loosestrife and the hell with it. Thanks for sharing this! And anyway, when ARE you going to post one of your own poems?!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Pam--You know, I've never had an issue with buddleia. Maybe it's only in more temperate areas where it's invasive?
Robin--Weeds ARE wonderful. I have many in my garden, and would like many more, especially if they flower!
Kim--What happens when you leave your garden? That's the problem with gardens--they have to be tended. I'm thinking of just letting mine go and see what happens.
Victoria--Alas! I have two dark purple / red, two light purple, and a white. If I can jam more in I would! In August and Septemeber the butterfly show is beyond belief here in Nebraska.
Ellen--Purple loosestrife? Shame on you. I've posted a few of my poems over the last year, but right now I'm not even thinking about poetry--it's all prose. Prose all the time. I even get up in the middle of the night and write some thought down. Prose prose prose.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. This poem just gave me the courage to do what I've been thinking about all week. This is my first full year of gardening and it's one of several lessons I've learned the hard way.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Pam--I hope it gave you the courage to plant them, and not rip them out! I live in zone 5 nebraska, and never have a problem. (It's also my first year gardening.)

Pam J. said...

BV: sorry to say that I was indeed suggesting removing them. But Peter's poem tells me that they will return. My problem isn't that they spread. It's that I have not yet figured out how to prune them. Two nice small plants, one yellow and one purple, that I a year ago and have pruned several times now have big, woody trunks. The bushes have grown huge, so huge that they are just plain ugly (too much branch, leaves too small, flowers pretty but overwhelmed by all those branches). I'll wait until fall but I'm going to be daring and harsh and cut them back to the ground. I trust Peter when he says:

So I cut mine back to nothing,
buried the broken stump —

only to find it returned
the next spring, multiplied.

I had a recent similar experience with two yucca plants (Susan, of GardenRant, posted about my radical removal technique: learned it from a YouTube video about mountain biking). That was in June and already a dozen little yuccas are sprouting up. They look sweet when they're only a month old.

Pam J.


Pam J. said...

I meant, of course,
"Two nice small plants, one yellow and one purple, that I PLANTED a year ago...."

Benjamin Vogt said...

Pam--Oh my, yes, hack them to the ground, or, to within 12"; they will most certainly put on many, many feet over the summer without so much as a shrug. Yeah, if you just leave them be, that's trouble. Here in zone 5, they die back anyway, and cutting them to 12" is more an aesthetic thing.

Pam J. said...

You mean....hack them back now? As in late July? How long will they look hideous? At least a month, right?

Benjamin Vogt said...

Oh, not now--don't want to lose the butterflies! Wait till late winter to cut them to about 12". Sorry I wasn't clear--I'm a writer, but not a PERFECT one, for sure.