Heading as we are into that most delirious of garden seasons, early summer, I’ve been enjoying the lovely clouds of Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) that are blooming everywhere now. My enjoyment is guilty, because naturalists blast it as a European introduction–it was brought here in the 17th century as a garden flower–that has become rampant. It has been described as being like an “overdressed matron wearing too much cheap perfume,” and its color as “gaudy.” Gaudy? The flowers range from white to pale lavender to a soft lavender rose, and couldn’t be softer. And I just stepped out to inhale its sweet, phlox-like fragrance. Each to his own.
The Latin name of Dame’s Rocket comes from Hesperia, the Greek goddess of the evening star. She was one of the Hesperides, nymphs who tended a blissful garden in the far western corner of the world.
In closing, I found this lovely poem called “Hesperus,” by C.S. Lewis and thought you might enjoy.
Through the starry hollow Of the summer night I would follow, follow Hesperus the bright, To seek beyond the western wave His garden of delight. Hesperus the fairest Of all gods that are, Peace and dreams thou bearest In thy shadowy car, And often in my evening walks I’ve blessed thee from afar. Stars without number, Dust the noon of night, Thou the early slumber And the still delight Of the gentle twilit hours Rulest in thy right. When the pale skies shiver, Seeing night is done, Past the ocean-river, Lightly thou dost run, To look for pleasant, sleepy lands, That never fear the sun. Where, beyond the waters Of the outer sea, Thy triple crown of daughters That guards the golden tree Sing out across the lonely tide A welcome home to thee. And while the old, old dragon For joy lifts up his head, They bring thee forth a flagon Of nectar foaming red, And underneath the drowsy trees Of poppies strew thy bed. Ah! that I could follow In thy footsteps bright, Through the starry hollow Of the summer night, Sloping down the western ways To find my heart’s delight! Poem from PoemHunter.com.