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A Gardener Comes to Terms with Blue

Articles: A Gardener Comes to Terms with Blue

Salvia uliginosa with Amaranthus hypochondriacs ‘Chinese Giant Orange’ and lilies in the fall garden. Photo: Daniel Mount

The first time I heard Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” was in July of 1972 as I sat cross-legged in denim cutoffs on the floor of my cool basement bedroom. As she elongated the pure and simple word blue, dropping through whos and oos, her singing became the color, and that color a mood. Blue, I love you, I wailed along with Joni in a voice that cracked and quavered. I was losing my childhood falsetto, my innocence, and my eye for red. I was growing up, finding my cool, and falling in love with blue.

I hated the Midwest midsummer heat, so I hid in my dark basement room all day reading and listening to Joni Mitchell. It made my mother worry. She would pry me from my lair, commanding me to weed the vegetable patch. Under the blistering sun, I sought coolness among the blue flowers of her garden. I found it in the faithful self-sown bachelor buttons, in the gentle pansies my mother would plant each spring in the shade of the garage, and in the happy morning glories tangling through our neighbor’s c...

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Articles: Calochortophilia: A Californian’s Love Affair with a Genus by Katherine Renz

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