An island garden By Celia Thaxter
The most exquisite perfume known to my garden is that of the Wallflowers; there is nothing equal to it. They blossom early, and generally before June has passed they are gone, and have left me mourning their too swift departure. I wonder they are not more generally cultivated, but I fancy the fact that they do not blossom till the second year has much to do with their rarity. It requires so much more faith and patience to wait a whole year, and meanwhile carefully watch and tend the plants, excepting during the time when winter covers them with a blanket of snow; but when at last spring comes and the tardy flowers appear, then one is a thousand times repaid for all the tedious months of waiting. They return such wealth of bloom and fragrance for the care and thought bestowed on them! Their thick spikes of velvet blossoms are in all shades of rich red, from scarlet to the darkest brown, from light gold to orange; some are purple; and their odor, — who shall describe it! Violets, Roses, Lilies, Sweet Peas, Mignonette, and Heliotrope, with a dash of Honeysuckle, all mingled in a heavenly whole. There is no perfume which I know that can equal it. And they are so lavish of their scent; it is borne off the garden and wafted everywhere, into the house and here and there in all directions, in viewless clouds on the gentle air. To make a perfect success of Wallflowers they must be given lime in some form about the roots. They thrive marvelously if fed with a mixture of old plastering in the soil, or bone meal, or, if that is not at hand, the meat bones from the kitchen, calcined in the oven and pounded into bits, stirred in around the roots is fine for them. This treatment makes all the difference in the world in their strength and beauty. After the Wallflowers, Roses and Lilies, Mignonette, Pinks, Gillyflowers, Sweet Peas, and the Honeysuckles for fragrance, and of these last, the monthly Honeysuckle is the most divine. Such vigor of growth I have never seen in any other plant, and it is hardy even without the least protection in our northern climate. It climbs the trellis on my piazza and spreads its superb clusters of flowers from time to time all summer. Each cluster is a triumph of beauty, flat in the centre and curving out to the blossoming edge in joyous lines of loveliness, most like a wreath of heavenly trumpets breathing melodies of perfume to the air. Each trumpet of lustrous white deepens to a yellower tint in the centre where the small ends meet; each blossom where it opens at the lip is tipped with fresh pink; each sends out a group of long stamens from its slender throat like rays of light; and the whole circle of radiant flowers has an effect of gladness and glory indescribable: the very sight of it lifts and refreshes the human heart. And for its odor, it is like the spirit of romance, sweet as youth's tender dreams. It is summer's very soul.