Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beauty and the beast

Help! We are being devoured by beauty.

First, they ingratiated themselves by a shy display of elegance. And a perfect sense of timing. They bloom July to September, just when we are in residence. A modest sprinkling of brilliant orange. We welcomed them. We gave them the run of the garden.

They quietly increased their numbers. A sprinkling became a muster. A muster became a riot. Year by year they asserted their independence, their sense of privilege. And still we were indulgent. They were, after all, beautiful, and who were we to oppose beauty?

Before we knew it, they had the upper hand. They were squeezing the other colors out of the garden's palette. A rainbow became a orange glare. Rampant. Greedy. Asserting their corms into every hollow.

Montbretia. A 19th-century invader from South Africa. And it's not just our garden. They are taking over the neighborhood. The roadsides are seas of fire. Beautiful, yes. But what of the fuchsia? What of the loosestrife? What of the meadowsweet? Even that schoolyard bully ragwort is shouldered aside.

Is there such a thing as too much beauty?