October 21, 2007


Archives - 1980 - Daylily Series 2 - 30x40

Artists and gardens... a long standing tradition, it seems. I'm sure there are plenty of excellent painters who don't dig dirt and have little use for sculpting the land, but betcha they are a small minority. In another life I plan to be a landscape designer... or maybe I've already filled that square... several times over.

I come from a long line of dirt diggers... one grandmother provided local florists huge spider mums once popular for dates at football games, the other once tended strawberry fields, then moved on to ranching... growing most of what they ate all the while. I had little use for learning from them as a youth, but as soon as I married I felt the urge to grow flowers, learning on a need to know basis. Experienced neighbors were free with their advice as well as cuttings and rootings. I still have daylilies from those long ago gifts. In spite of our many moves, favorite plants were dug up and carried with us... the poor old ski boat serving as carrier, blowing tires in protest.

The last few days at the lake were partially dedicated to enjoying house guests visiting from Baton Rouge so we were able to kick back and not think about the big projects yet to be tackled. It was classic early fall weather, brilliant after a much needed cleansing rain, and begging to be dug in. The remnants of my early gardens at this property are most evident in the remaining daylilies scattered along paths and mingling with the ivy. Too much shade for them to bloom or multiply, they seem to be waiting in limbo for someone to rescue them. So I began that process, gathering and moving them to a sunny patch of good dirt in the front. I'm anxious to see "who" they are. All my daylilies had proper names if purchased from a grower, or I gave them a suitable name. I'm hoping they might be my long time favorite, "Cheddar Cheese," which was given to me in Maryland in the early '70's. I still have a pot of them... possibly the earliest daylily to bloom... and would rebloom in late summer when we were in NOLA.

That's 'Cheddar Cheese' up top... only the second in a very long series devoted to one of my favorites. Later I would begin leaving out the flowers as I began focusing on the interaction of old and new leaves... conveying a generational mingling... something that was happening in my own life as parents aged and kids and g-kids surged forth. Life became intense and my work reflected this with the tightness of detail and overlapping forms of elongated leaves and grasses. I think that was not an accident, it was a retreat much the way knitting is for some. Tiny little stitches that add up to something much larger. A few hours of digging in the dirt in hopes of a larger reward later. A place to go and quietly produce when the world is weighing way too much.


Daphne said...

It's a lovely analogy of your life and your "Cheddar Cheese" day lilies.

They're one of my favorite flowers because of their waterfall of leaves.

MMComstock said...

What a wonderful post, Karen. The last paragraph is poetry, beautiful and wise.

You are definitely talented with words and thoughts as well as paints and brushes!


KJ said...

Thank you both... a boost at a time when I'd welcome time to hide in a corner and do minute things again... thought there was supposed to be plenty of time "later"... when is "later?"

And Margot... does the need to edit and re-edit ever cease??? Your kudos are especially appreciated! Thanks for reading.

Annette Bush said...

Writing and painting both call for an occasional edit (or tweak.) I'm always delighted when I can just reread without an aargh! Margot is right on -- pure poetry, Karen.