Flowers of the Seven Sons

Behold the seven sons’ flower – which is actually the name of the small tree that carries these delicate blooms. In their third or fourth year, the two specimens we have in our backyard now tower above me (like so much else) and their bark is just beginning to peel off in the enchanting manner that first drew me under their influence.

The flowers, which just started blooming last week, appear at the end of summer, but the exact date is wildly variable. Some years they’ve begun as early as July, others as late as late September. Regardless, their sweet perfume is more than welcome at this time of the year, because it’s often a slow time in the garden. As much as I love gardening, I find my drive and excitement waning around now. My focus tends to turn inside, back to clothing and cologne, and away from the out of doors. I lose my interest in the start of the dying season, which is why I’ve never been very ambitious as far as fall bulb planting goes (and why I’m so often kicking myself in the barren spring).

It’s the same sort of thing that happens on the last day of a trip. I just want to cut my emotional losses and go. Why drag out the inevitable end? Yet lately part of me has been wanting to hold on, to make the most of the last moments of a vacation or trip, or even a season. It’s like the last-minute saving grace of a pear cocktail in Las Vegas – a final 11th hour appeal to hold onto the ticking of the clock – a plea to slow and still what cannot be stopped.

The seven sons’ flower blooms regardless of all this, always near the end of summer, just before the long slumber to winter commences. It doesn’t feel regret or remorse, doesn’t think ahead to its last gasp before a hard frost – it will bloom until it can’t, and then it will start all over again next year.

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