Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Janie at Southern Lagniappe did a lovely post yesterday on the honeysuckle vines and roses she happened upon on a deserted roadside. When I’m in a still, untraveled place like that, I wonder how many blossoms are truly “born to blush unseen, and waste their sweetness on the desert air.” And finding them, preserving them through pictures, and sharing them with an uncountable list of viewers to appreciate them---that was a special gift.

I’m used to honeysuckle---we loved it as children, plucking it unmercifully, sucking the tee-ninecy drop of sweetness from the broken spot at the stem end, and tossing away the still-bright husks without a second thought. We also cut great sheaves of them, to go in cans and bottles and whatever jug or vase we might appropriate, taking them to neighbors and shut-ins and decorating our tree-houses and playhouses within an inch of Miss Martha’s life.

But up here---the honeysuckle is a different breed entirely. The blossoms are there, sweet as ever, small and distinct, the smooth perfection of their whiteness like that of tuberoses and gardenias.

Oh, yes, we have them here---growing more prolific and more burdened with bloom than any I’ve ever seen in that fertile Southern soil.

They are not the quick-creeping vines of my recollection; they’re limbs.

The blooms begin as close buds, tipping the stems with a tiny nipple of whitest-white. Then, as they open, their golden scepters appear, laden with the coveted fruit: pollen. And, as they fade, their entire being is clad in gold, slowly dwindling into a gentle husk, swept away by the wind.

Though I consider EVERYTHING flowers, and figure that the Lord made them all beautiful blossoms, then FOLKS came along and arbitrarily decided that some were weeds, and it pains me to cut down blooms to die and wither in the pile of limbs, I’ve been trimming unmercifully this morning. I’ve lopped and pruned and moved great piles of the cut branches. I’ve cleared yards of them, overgrown several feet into the yard, blocking the sun from the ivy and the other beds.

For these are not ordinary honeysuckle vines; they’re TREES. Honest-to-gosh, housetop-tall TREES.

Out beside the drive, all along the fence, and comprising almost all of the overhanging shade in the arbor, with trunks springing full-blown, are dozens and dozens of these, shading almost the entire yard.
The golden debris on the ground is partly dropped older blossoms, and mostly the beee-julianna maple spinners, taken flight in every neighbor’s yard and finding a home here, in my garden, flowerbeds, gutters, driveway and housetop. The guys swept up an honest-to-goodness two BUSHELS of the things Monday, and that many are back.

This is my arbor-in-progress, with what Chris calls my Gate-to-Nowhere. It certainly DOES lead somewhere---to Peaceful, to Breeze-combed, to Quiet, to Put-Your-Feet-Up, and to RELAX. No Open Sesame; no Clicking Heels, just Enter and Be Glad. Pretty good for a piece of metal found atop someone’s garbage pile.

The small yellow unbidden flower just appeared one day, and has been just a joy to see.

And this, scourge of gardeners untold, is a lovely thing to me---as perfect in its unique self as a snowflake. Chris says it looks like 10,000 Will-O-The-Wisps dancing, holding hands.

So we may have left the South, but it certainly hasn’t left our hearts:

And yes, I tasted a few today---just for Old Times.


  1. Rachel, I've seen honeysuckle COVER trees, but have never seen a honeysuckle TREE. That's amazing.

    I loved your story about them and enjoyed hearing about your arbor and "gate to nowhere." I hope you will share your "relaxing place" with us when you finish creating it. It looks like you have a perfect shady spot for it under the trees.

    Thank you for mentioning my post about honeysuckle.

  2. I hadn't seen a honeysuckle tree, either!

    I have surely been enjoying the honeysuckle, though. The smell takes me back to childhood, Little League games, fireflies, playing kickball in our backyard.

  3. Honeysuckle---that was daddy's favorite. And every time I get a whiff of it, it somehow feels like he is near. I think there's definitely a thin veil between heaven and earth and sometimes heaven breaks through.