Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Humble Garden, Heavenly Sight

Driving around at 9:00 am, in a very modest neighborhood close to my house, I came across a waterfall of pink flowers that were fairly throwing themselves over a wooden fence.  After a careful look around, I hopped out to take a few pictures, which always makes me a little nervous, to tell the truth.

Podranea ricasoliana
But I love these serendipitous moments.  You'll see some lovely things on garden club tours, but if you keep your eyes open, any neighborhood can surprise you.  Someone in this simple little house carefully planted a flowering vine in just the right spot and was rewarded with this stunning show.  I picture a sweet motherly type in a housecoat, who got her pink trumpet vine from her family in the Valley.  She may have bought it at a nursery, but it's a plant we don't often see for sale.  So I imagine her carrying her little cutting home wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil.  Only she called it "tin foil."

Also known as Pink Trumpet Vine
She planted it never knowing its botanical name, Podranea ricasoliana.  But her own mother told her to plant it in a sunny spot, give it plenty of water in the summer, and plenty of room.  It's a vigorous vine, like its orange cousin, Campsis radicans.  And like the orange trumpet vine, it blooms in late fall, offering the migrating hummingbirds one last sip of nectar before they head south for the winter.

Glorious in the late fall
She was relieved when her pretty vine came roaring back from last winter's freeze.  She needn't have worried -- Podranea is root hardy even a zone north of us.  She'll be enjoying this beautiful vine for years to come, and passing along her own carefully wrapped cuttings.

Cheerful cup-shaped faces
My thanks to this unknown gardener, for providing me with not only a cheery surprise but a story that inspired my gardening heart.


  1. Elizabeth,
    These pictures are freaking me out. I had to look at them a couple of times to make sure you were not sneaking around my backyard. My vine looks extremely similar and I'm probably not that far from you (I live in Westbury). However, I'm not a sweet motherly type and I don't have family in the valley, so I guess I'm safe. :)

  2. HGG, you are safe from prowlers! I was in Rosenberg that day. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I am glad you were sneaking around. This was a very pretty vining display. I never saw the pink version. I just cut my yellow trumpet vine down to the ground, but no fear, it will beck again.

  4. What a beautiful vine! I am not familiar with it, though I have often seen its orange cousin around here. At first i thought you had posted a photo from spring. It's nice to see such a pretty flower this late in the year!

  5. Lovely plant and lovely "story" to go with it.