From My Garden: Twenty Camellias in Haiku

Last spring I planted camellias in our front flowerbeds, not fully appreciating what a blessing I was giving myself. My husband and I worked the soil, adding amendments to create the acidity needed for the new camellias and azaleas. We went to Maas Nursery, the best place in the Houston area to get camellias, and purchased one Royal Velvet (deep red), one Purple Dawn (purplish pink) and a variety I had never heard of before, Sadaharu Oh (pink and white) named after a baseball player. The Royal Velvet has opened three glorious blooms so far, the Purple Dawn is a week from blooming  for the first time, but the Sadaharu Oh has proved unexpectedly prolific. Eighteen blooms have come and gone over the past month and it shows no sign of slowing down. Every time I tried to count the buds I would lose track somewhere between sixty and seventy.

I have been battling a respiratory infection this winter and without the joy my camellias have brought I don’t know how I would have made it through. But there is something about the fleeting nature of the camellia flower that makes one think of mortality and the beauty of life anyway.

These photos were taken in my garden and in my home and inspired the camellia theme for the week. In turn, I was inspired by the haikus of Matsuo Bashō and decided to try my hand at haikus. Staying traditional by keeping the 5-7-5 syllable count in three lines, I also tried to keep a sense of the jarring, unexpected nature of the content. I don’t know how successful I was, but the enjoyment I received from the mental exercise was well worth the time spent. I hope you will love them.

 

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a bowl of petals

this fierce corolla looks up

to contain the sun

 

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a pink and white bloom

adorns the glossy green leaves

crowned by threads of light

 

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a bee drinks deeply

ensconced in choice filaments

briefly imprisoned

 

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 the bee roaming freely

high on nectar among petals

is distinctly small

 

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the waxy flower

incapable of flying

makes the bee her slave

 

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in the flower’s bell

a bee hangs like a clapper

that will never ring

 

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after winter rain

shining with damp radiance

blooms have not fallen

 

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a fragile wax bloom

pours out its captured water

cup overflowing

 

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flower petals moist

textured like a infant’s skin

lasting only days

 

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in winter’s darkness

the camellia flowers

bring back the sunlight

 

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blossom beneath leaves

out of reach of wind and rain

afraid of falling

 

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a fallen flower

vibrant colors bathed in tears

is already dead

 

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cradled on pine straw

the flower’s lifeless body

collects dewy tears

 

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like a fallen star

gracing my simple table

bringing nature home

 

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remaining lovely

in a dish splashed with water

bloom cut off from life

 

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like a frilly dress

layers exposed for all eyes

she remains empty

 

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moisture is fickle

too much and the bloom will rot

too little she wilts

 

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each bloom so unique

drops in her time from the plant

nature is wasteful

 

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a fleeting flower

dropping helplessly to earth

evokes our own death

 

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a flower lingers

uncoupled from life and dead

may we do the same

 

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