Here is one of the most influential poems of the 20th century, Poem XXII from William Carlos Williams’s 1923 book Spring and All:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
As any housewife knows, a fair bit depends upon a washing line too — as Williams would have known, being a doctor. So here is Abbie Jury in her last gardening column for the Waikato Times on Friday 30 January, on washing lines. She is a great gardening writer and also a very good journalist: she busted the plagiarism in Penguin’s 2011 Tui NZ Fruit Garden.
Her penultimate post was on red-hot pokers. Quote unquote:
The path back to social acceptance is somewhat more difficult for plants which have become the wildflowers of our roadsides, sniffed at as weeds although pretty enough on their days in flower. I am not convinced the agapanthus will ever recover from this lowly position in New Zealand life but the moptop hydrangea has already undergone a revival. The red hot poker is not as ubiquitous as the derided agapanthus, so maybe there is hope. In times past there were plans for it to be a great deal more common, in one area at least.
Back in the early 1980s when a cabinet minister fell out with his leader and was demoted, he came up with a clever plan to catch public attention. It was Derek Quigley, if my memory serves me right. He wanted to plant up our roadsides thematically, to pretty-up the main roads for tourists. So Canterbury, the home of grace and tradition and the place of his electorate, was to be planted in flowering cherry trees. Classy. I am afraid I do not recall what, if anything, was suggested for the Waikato. But poor old Taranaki – its roadsides were to be planted in red hot pokers if the fallen cabinet minister had his way. He was no horticulturist.
The Waikato Times is a fool to let her go.