Monday, March 22, 2010

Garden Heroes

When we bought these bulbs last year at the nursery, the lettering on the package said BLACK TULIP, like the Dumas novel. They are a sort of interesting purple, with a bloom like a grape on the outer surface of the petals. Yesterday on a bright spring afternoon I found them striking Maoist poses against the sky, modeling their gestures on those of the noble workers in the mid-century propaganda posters I saw on Friday at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum's Shanghai exhibition. My daughter's roses will be blooming within a week in the East Bay garden where these tulips have it all their own way just at present. The roses are mostly English ones developed in Edwardian days. One of them is named for that formidable gardener Gertrude Jekyll who would never (I am quite sure) have spared a civil word for Chairman Mao.