'Lilac Time' Photo credit: Olaf Leillinger
Some people can quote from Shakespeare; I quote from Henry Mitchell and Eleanor Perenyi, two of America's classic garden writers.
Eleanor Perenyi captured the cultural silliness, as well as the deep importance, of gardening. Third in my series of excerpts from her book Green Thoughts (1981) is her frequently-cited reflection on dahlias:
Looking at my dahlias one summer day, a friend whose taste runs to the small and impeccable said sadly, 'You do like big, conspicuous flowers, don't you?' She meant vulgar, and I am used to that. It hasn't escaped me that mine is the only Wasp garden in town to contain dahlias, and not the discreet little singles either. Some are as blowzy as half-dressed Renoir girls; others are like spiky sea-creatures, water-lilies, or the spirals in a crystal paperweight; and they do shoot up to prodigious heights. But to me they are sumptuous, not vulgar, and I love their colors, their willingness to bloom until the frost kills them and, yes, their assertiveness. I do like big flowers when they are also beautiful.
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