Winter sun –
the dead heads on hundreds
of agapanthus plants.
This is the second agapanthus haiku that I’ve written and published to this blog this year (find my previous effort here).
To be honest I’m not-too-fond of agapanthus. They’re bloody everywhere. Agapanthus must be the all-time most popular flower for councils, and corporate landscapers, to plant. In parks and formal gardens; on median strips and traffic islands; beside wide concrete driveways leading to twin car garages; showing through the safety fences of in-ground pools; and surrounding the car parks of tilt-slab retail barns, growing out of the scoria, next to low treated-pine log fences: agapanthus.
Oh God, I’m a completely obnoxious snob.
Agapanthus are obviously cheap, widely available, pretty hardy and low maintenance, and hence . . . everywhere. They’re overexposed. A bed of agapanthus essentially means: just make it look OK, and have it done by tomorrow, and, oh yeah, our budget is half what we said it was going to be. But this isn’t what agapanthus have always meant.
Trove is a wonderful website where you can access digitised copies of old Australian newspapers and other media, and there I came across a black and white photo of five agapanthus stems in a glass vase from the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, dated 4-Nov-1938. The caption on the photo reads: “AGAPANTHUS – the flower of love, a winning entry by Mrs M. Burton in the cut bloom section at St Paul’s Caladium Show” (the name Agapanthus come from the Greek agapē, love, and anthos, flower).
Another find on Trove that mentions agapanthus in the context of love is the following article published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail on 29-Dec-1939:
YULETIDE WEDDING Sexton–Dempsey BLUE hydrangea and white agapanthus decked the Albert Street Methodist Church on December 22nd when Miss Margaret Dempsey, only child of the late Mr J. J. Dempsey, and Mrs Dempsey formerly of Junction Park and later of Southport School, was married to Mr Cecil Sexton of Cairns. GIVEN away by her uncle, Mr H. Rennie, the bride wore a street-length frock of aqua blue broderie Anglaise made with a swing skirt and finished at the neckline with a spray of tuberoses. A large white picture hat and white accessories completed the ensemble. Mrs Frank Daly was matron of honour, frocked in lemon floral sheer, finished with a spray of mauve agapanthus and white gardenias, and she added white accessories. Mr Frank Daly accompanied the bridegroom. The Rev. H. M. Wheller officiated. Mr Archie Day was organist, and Miss Firth Edmonds sang. At the Hotel Canberra, where the reception was held, Mrs Dempsey received her guests wearing a tailored bolero ensemble of navy and white, with a white hat, and she pinned a spray of crimson rosebuds on the corsage. Leaving for the honeymoon, before proceeding North to her future home in Cairns, Mrs Sexton wore a frock of floral germaine with a honey-toned hat.
Side Note: Agapanthus are apparently often called African Lily or Lily of the Nile in the old country (who knows why, because they aren’t lilies, and they come from South Africa which is nowhere near the Nile).
Here is another agapanthus haiku that wrote back in summer when their flower heads were green and purple, instead of dead and brown, and waiting to be cut back, as they are now:
A single agapanthus head
the wrought-iron fence.
Brisbane Courier-Mail, (accessed via Trove, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/40891356#)
Rockhampton Morning Bulletin (accessed via Trove, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/55999372?searchTerm=Agapanthus)