When To Sow

by Vita Sackville-West

When skies are gentle, breezes bland.
When loam that’s warm within the hand
Falls friable between the tines.
Sow hollyhocks and columbines.

The tufted pansy, and the tall
Snapdragon in the broken wall.
Not for this summer, but for next.
Since foresight is the gardener’s text.

And though his eyes may never know
How lavishly his flowers blow.
Others will stand and musing say
‘These were the flowers he sowed that May.’

But for this summer’s quick delight
Sow marigold, and sow the bright
Frail poppy that with noonday dies
But wakens to afresh surprise:

Along the pathway, stones be set
Sweet Alysson and mignonette,
That when the full midsummer’s come
On scented clumps, the bees may hum.

Golden Italians, and the wild
Black bumble-bee alike beguiled;
And lovers who have never kissed
May sow the cloudy Love-in-Mist.

Nor be the little space forgot
For herbs to spice the kitchen pot:
Mint pennyroyal, bergamot.
Tarragon and melilot.

Dill for witchcraft, prisoner’s rue.
Coriander, costmary.
Tansy, thyme. Sweet Cicely,
Saffron, balm, and rosemary

That since the Virgin threw her cloak
Across it, - so say cottage folk -
Has changed its flowers from white to blue.
But have a care that seeds be strewn
One night beneath a waxing moon.
And pick when the moon is on the wane.
Else shall your toil be all in vain .. .
— Vita Sackville West, English author and garden designer, The Land

As featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

Words inspired by the garden are the sweetest, most beautiful words of all.
Vita Sackville West
Vita Sackville West

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