Friday, 27 January 2023

January rain —
Lenten roses budding,
woodpeckers at work.

A view (in haiku) from the secret garden.

Jan is hosting Poetry Friday at bookseedstudio this week. What is Poetry Friday? Read this!

When we moved to our new house in the fall of 2019, I didn’t know what Lenten Rose (aka hellebore) was. It was one of many discoveries made in the winter and spring of 2020. When pandemic lockdown was in full force, I spent hours every day wandering in the Secret Garden.

Here is a hellebore poem by Theodora Goss.

The Hellebore
by Theodora Goss

It was January, and yet
the green leaves of the hellebore still stuck
out of last year’s leaf mold, mostly oak
and maple, edged with frost
(there was frost all over the garden),
rising leathery green against the brown,
and underneath I could see the pale cream buds
of what, eventually, would become flowers like bowls
of milk, the color of a wedding gown,
as soft as the cheek of a newborn,
as elegant as one of those engravings
from the Edo period, stylized
and meaning something other than itself:
resiliency, rebirth. The promise
of Spring.

Read the rest at Theodora Goss’s website.

I’ll see you all right here next week, when it’s my turn to host Poetry Friday.

24 responses to “Poetry Friday: Hellebore”

  1. I’ve never heard of hellebore so thank you! And thank you for the photos, too. So much to explore. So much to see.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Liz. They are a late winter bloomer that come in a variety of colors from wine red to pale pink. And the dried flowers and seed pods are just as beautiful as the flowers.

  2. Linda Baie says:

    I know we had hellebore when I lived in Missouri, but I don’t see it here. Your secret garden is such a gift to you, Laura, & to us to whom you share it. Love the haiku illustrated & Goss’ poetic similes.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Linda. It has been a gift — and a balm in those early days of the pandemic. Wandering in the garden soothed my spirit.

  3. tanita says:

    Ooh, lovely — I didn’t know hellebores were called Lenten Roses. They don’t thrive here, so I’ve never seen them live – can’t wait to see them fully opened. I love the imagery of your secret garden.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Tanita! They are lovely flowers but what really fascinates me is when they dry — the shapes they make are like modern art. I’ll have to share some photos. Congrats on your new book!

  4. Mary Lee says:

    Thanks for the hellebore poem! I was just inspecting mine this morning (now that the snow’s receded) for signs of buds/blooms. None yet, but lots of new growth coming in!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Mary Lee. I’m hoping the camelia isn’t far behind and that area of the garden will be in bloom soon. Sadly, I noticed a neighbors forsythia starting to bloom when I was out today. In January!

  5. Appreciations for introducing me to Theodora Goss, whose poetry is elegant & spare. I looked also at her grandmother poem speaking of teeth, which is also beautiful.
    I love the image of you walking in your Secret Garden for solace & inspiration during the big lockdown of recent history. Something to tell grandchildren about – in poems!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I’d never read of Goss’s work before and was excited to see that a student of mine read one of her short stories recently!

  6. Lovely poem Laura—I have a few helleborus’ two in my front yard and one in my back. They are a reassuring sign that spring is on it’s way, though mine aren’t close to buds yet, I’ll have to check again. I’ve also painted this gorgeous plant-though I have a WIP I started a while ago, and I’ll have to pull it out and finish sometime. Enjoy that magical secret garden of yours, and thanks for all!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Michelle. I’ll have to send you pictures of some of the hellebore flowers I’ve dried. They have so much texture — truly stunning.

  7. Enjoy the secrets of your garden. Now I want to plant some hellebore around our yard. I used to look forward to the forsythia blooming (one of our earliest blooms) but we had to take it out to redo part of the driveway.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Kay! Oh, I love forsythia. We’ve planted several along the fence since moving in. (And there is a forsythia mentioned in Welcome to Monsterville — in the poem “Green Cave.”)

  8. I don’t know the hellebore. Love your pics.

  9. I’m not familiar with hellebore – but love woodpeckers at work!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      In summer of 2021, a woodpecker nested in a hole in one of our backyard trees. Those babies were LOUD! But it was fun to see them poking their beaks out for food.

  10. Never heard of the Lenten Rose. Now I have! Love the dots on the woodpecker feather.

  11. Love the treasury of photos and I’m always all in for a secret garden. 🙂
    The Goss poem is lovely. I especially liked the final lines:

    I simply wanted them
    to continue being themselves, and for myself to learn
    a little, just a little, of their endurance.

  12. Oh, that rising leathery green is beautiful. So tough and so unexpected.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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