Annual Flowers in Abundance – Finally!

As you’ve no doubt noticed if you follow these things, the current fashion in bouquets has oneness at its heart. Either it’s one kind of flower  – roses, say or gerbera daisies – or it’s one color: white or pink or (in the higher rent districts) green.

Not usually purple, it must be admitted, but …

Otherwise this is typical

Otherwise this is typical

Or typical of one colorness, anyway. Gladioli and sweet peas are not typically buddies but this has been a weird summer.

This year, the kind of bouquets my old friend Sharon calls “ It must be August,” only became possible in early September. Most of the good annual cutting flowers take time to start producing in earnest, and that goes double for the ones you get by letting things like Verbena bonariensis and nigella self-sow.

Not subtle, but satisfying in it’s own way.

Not subtle, but satisfying in it’s own way.

Have to admit that’s not a single big bouquet, it’s a push of the camera into

a box of little bouquets that are bound for our local food pantry.

a box of little bouquets that are bound for our local food pantry.

I’m a big fan of the PAR (Plant a Row for the hungry) campaign, organized by the Garden Writers Association, though I do wish the originator had chosen another title. Planting a whole  a row sounds like work, and in the case of those with small gardens, a non-trivial sacrifice, yet the idea is simply to share the extra and if you can intend some extra so much the better.

Not surprisingly, my extra tends to be the same extra everyone else has: tomatoes (usually), zucchini, snap beans, beets (sorry, Prez), potatoes in the days when we grew potatoes… and this year it finally dawned on me that people who need a little help can get as sick of zucchini as everyone else.

So this year I did plant a whole row, remembering there’s more than one way to be hungry

…Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;                                                                                               Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!…

From a poem by James Oppenheim that’s commonly attributed to (unnamed)  female labor activists. It was published in 1911 and became famous in association with the Lawrence Massachusetts textile strike of 1912. I probably heard it first from Mimi Fariña, who set it to music in 1976. All the words – and a lot of the slogan’s subsequent history – are here ( on wikipedia).

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