The Beauty and Joy of Gardening is at Times Only Temporary

Beauty in the garden may be only fleeting, but the joy of gardening in those moments can last

Flowers aren’t meant to last forever. They appear for a season, then go on. For me, part of the joy of gardening is being there to witness those brief moments when nature shares those beautiful shapes and colors. The deep orange yellows of a field of sunflowers evoke warmth and strength, while delicate morning glories fill us with wonder at the connection these wispy vines have with the transitions from day to night and back again.

It’s those passing moments in a garden of daylilies that take center stage in Last Blooms, by Gaylord Brewer. But wait too long, he posits, and you’ll miss those moments of beauty. “In addition to brief lives, the blooms are fragile,” he writes. Where one afternoon presents a colorful palette of bold flowers, bursting with pollen for the bees, the next offers a gloomy bed of withered flowers.

I love the vivid descriptions and sense of place in this story. I can almost smell the approaching storm and feel the wilting flowers in my hand. Whether you’re picking daylilies or admiring the tenacity of that native perennial on the hillside, I think you’ll appreciate this story for its unabashed love of natural beauty – even if that beauty is temporary.

Download our FREEBIE, GreenPrints Sampler: Joy of Gardening today and get stories that highlight the joys of toiling in the soil, knowing that the process of gardening is just as important as the harvest at the end of the season.

When the joy of gardening is but a moment in time

This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!

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Last Blooms

The beauty—and brevity—of daylilies.

By Gaylord Brewer

Picking daylilies doesn’t elicit the guilt typical of cutting flowers. Maybe all that deadheading hardens one. Also, consider the sublime and the tragic: In addition to brief lives, the blooms are fragile, endearing them further to the poetic temperament. Think I’m joking? After a violent morning rain, step outside and inspect 130+ flowers of all styles and nuances, gorgeous and luminous moments earlier and that you’ve waited a year for—ravaged to a mottled, goopy mess, their beauty taken. A gloomy sight.

In the early evening I pick four flowers and float them in a glass bowl on the coffee table. I hold to the conceit that selection is prized by the plants, based on a hybrid’s crazily productive day, a complementary palette of color, or personal whim. As the season wanes, a lily’s final bloom—job well done—merits a wistful spot in the bowl. Always, though, I wait until early evening for my harvest, each flower deserving of its day in the sun, bold toward the sky or coquettish from within her foliage. Let the remaining bees have their fun, too, a good tumble in the pollen.

This game of hours can be risky. Yesterday afternoon, the very end of the season with two of only three remaining buds in bloom, a slashing gray storm arrived from nowhere. I was instinctively out of my chair and running, barefoot, onto the porch, down the slick stepping stones. No time for caution or jacket. Seconds could make the difference.

Happy ending: Our eccentric hero got to the lilies in time and snapped them from their stems.


One in each hand and shielded by the body, he cradled his tender cargo, splashing through the grass back to safety. First responder!

That was yesterday. This morning, I tossed the remains, now a handful of goo, into the bin and scrubbed the bowl I would no longer need. The last bloom of the season, a rangy, golden Bengaleer, hovers as lone sentry above the withered bed.

Which can only mean one thing: The hell of August is on its way. Time’s up for ephemeral beauty. Time for the poets to lock their doors.

By Gaylord Brewer, published originally in 2021, in GreenPrints Issue #126. Illustrations by P. Savage.

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Did you enjoy this story about the joy of gardening? Leave a comment below with your own story!

Download our FREEBIE, GreenPrints Sampler: Joy of Gardening today and get stories that highlight the joys of toiling in the soil, knowing that the process of gardening is just as important as the harvest at the end of the season.


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