Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nature’s First Green is Gold

…or is it?

That line from Robert Frost’s 1923 poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” awakens my inner empiricist in ways that things I professionally study cannot and do not. In New England, the birches and willows do indeed offer a delicate haze of gold. But in other parts, say, even here in Delaware, one may witness the orange-red haze produced by trees the species of which is unbeknownst to me even before the golden haze of the willow. Frost’s assertion reveals itself to be not absolutely falsifiable, but a regional truism.  

But why split hairs?

Who cannot help but love spring green or spring gold, coming as it were after months of winter white and/or morose browns?

But germinal spring—that period before the paroxysm of pastels begot by bulbs and flowering trees and shrubs that are iconic spring—is not monochromatic.

In my garden, spring greens appear as the spring burgundy of Ligularia dentate (Britt-Marie Crawford),

or the regal burgundy of Ajuga "Purple Brocade" set against the spectacle of the apple-green flowers of Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonica),

spring reds of tulip tops, some set against Euphorbia x martinii Rudolph Waleuphrud,

more spring reds of Golden Kate Spiderwort (Tradescantia x andersoniana)],

and spring purples of various hostas.

To appease Robert Frost, Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia) sports her flamboyant greenish gold against red Pennsylvania shale.

The variety of spring greens and golds titillates!

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