Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

The Chapel Garden: Observations and Conversations

Photos and text by Dee Schaefer, Becketwood Member




Hemmed in by formal, clipped boxwood, you spring anemones
toss your white faces and yellow hearts into the wind.
Quietly swaying, you move above jagged, dark-green foliage.
Ungovernable, undisciplined, and playful, you brush the stiff border.



Blue False Indigo

Birds, butterflies, and gardeners fall in love with you
in early summer.
You tantalize with your tall, gray-green foliage and purple-blue
pea-like flowers.
Only rabbits and drought find your shrubbery resistant.
As a North American native plant, you drifted into the lives
of indigenous peoples and early settlers.
They found you useful for fabric dye and medicinal purposes.
Your dry pods are celebrated for their kidney-shaped seeds
which rattle inside their large bi-valved housing.
Some even call you rattle weed or rattle bush.
Once planted, you refuse to be moved.
Your taproot settles deeply into the earth.
You have only one flaw: you are poisonous.


Siberian Iris

Although integrated into American gardens,
you are an outsider imported from central and eastern Europe.
There is something seductive about you.
In the spring, you stand tall in grassy clumps with elegant clusters
of deep purple blooms at your summits.
Your larger trio of petals, etched discreetly
with fine lime green and gold designs, evokes
delicate Art Deco jewels.
Your velvety texture invites caressing.
Above your lower petal trio jut six spear-shaped petals
grouped three by three.
Your symmetry embodies order. Your rich color
embodies wealth. Your sword-like petals embody power.
No wonder the medieval kings of France chose you
in stylized form for their signet rings.


Lady's Mantle

What would it be like to slip on your gray-green cloak
made of velvety pleated leaves with scalloped edges?
What would it be like to adorn one’s garment
with your delicate, yellow-green sprays of flowers?
What would it be like to capture your droplets of dew
like crystal jewels on one’s mantle?
According to a medieval legend, the Virgin Mary wrapped herself
in your exotic foliage from Turkey and the Carpathian Mountains,
perhaps unaware of its medicinal power.
What would it be like to share Mary’s choice?



Are you at home in a formal garden?
You have fled from North American grass prairies
with a reputation for drought tolerance.
Although your cousins are daisies, you display defiant
cone-shaped heads prickly to the touch.
Your rough leaves discourage picking.
Yet butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to your
purple, pink, white, and red blossoms.
Around your gold cones float neat rows of petals
like tiered skirts of ballerinas.
Ensuring your survival, your tiny seeds swirl
in the autumn wind.
Your controversial immune-boosting effects
and soothing qualities for sunburn are legendary.
All winter long, your sturdy silhouettes remind
passersby of your qualities. You are tough.


Leave a Reply

  • Anonymous July 16, 2020, 5:46 pm

    Very nice!

  • Helen Gilbert July 16, 2020, 7:36 pm

    Thank you, Dee. I’ve admired and enjoyed all of these and I’m glad to know more about them, so poetically.

  • Catherine Nicholl July 16, 2020, 7:43 pm

    Lovely poems and photos, Dee! Thank you.

  • Anonymous July 17, 2020, 12:31 am

    I love this! Both words and pictures are exceptional in making the easily passed by flowers alive and important. The color you somehow captured on that Siberian iris knocks me out.

  • Marion Hines July 19, 2020, 9:22 pm

    Hi, Dee! You’ve done it again! The blue of the Siberian iris is breathtaking, your similes on point! I love all color, but deep blues can have me for a song. A totally delight is your chit-chat with the blooms. You are so much fun!! – July 19, 2020.

  • Anonymous July 20, 2020, 4:14 pm

    A rich tapestry of color and poetry. Thank you for bringing cheer indoors. Especially arresting is the complex composition and subtle hues of green in The Lady’s Mantle – “….capture your droplets of dew like crystal jewels”. What a wonderful vision -pure poetry. Thank you for the joy,Dee.

  • Rosalie Maggio July 22, 2020, 12:14 am

    Magical, stunning, and memorable! I feel I’ve just exited another, a better world. Thank you for the respite. I was particularly taken by the last four lines on the iris (I will always think of them in this new way) and the surprising last line on the blue false indigo … and, actually, all the other lines.

  • Dorothy July 22, 2020, 9:56 pm

    Delightful, Dee. pictures and words.

  • Jeanne Gehrman July 23, 2020, 6:41 pm

    And we don’t have to drive through rush hour traffic to view a garden @5pm. Yay!

  • Sears Eldredge July 27, 2020, 7:18 pm

    Just a lovely series of photographs and intriguing commentary. The purple-blues in your pictures are particularly intense. As a photographer, you have a great eye for composition and framing. Thanks so much for sending your blog to me.

  • Anonymous July 27, 2020, 7:34 pm

    Dear Dee: You lugged those large sacks of dirt and fertilizer, for all these colors and well manicured blossoms, in a difficult summer of Covid-19 rules. Thank you for your perpetual pen of poetry and information, among the blooming crowd. Our patience paid off, as you clipped and smoothed the edges of the boxes holding these magnificent flowers in summer’s stifling heat or dry winds. Thank you and Margaret Kirkpatrick for your great care and massaging of the English Garden, summer, 2020. ~ Stephanie Gordon