in the seventh month, when the heat is dreadful

[Annual flowers] The wishbone flower is sometimes called the clown flower for its vivid colors. The flowers resemble tiny snapdragons, mouths open wide and showing their delicate throats. 

The heat can be taxing on the larkspur which will begin to go brown and fade when it gets too hot. In the cooler months, the blue larkspur spikes clustered together can bring considerable delight. 

You may have trouble finding amaranth or, as it is more commonly known, love-lies-bleeding. You may have to start them from seeds, sown directly into the soil.  

Beautiful moonflower will grow like a vine along a stake if you train it carefully. In the cool of the evening, the bright white flowers unfurl and stay open like that - wide, white, fragrant - until morning. 

In the seventh month when the heat is dreadful, the fans run all day and all night and it is delightful to wake on moonlit nights and lie there looking out. Dark nights too are delightful, and as for the sight of the moon at dawn, words cannot describe the loveliness.

Picture her lying on the unmade bed, her dark hair spread out across the pillow, the sheets rumpled and white across her brown skin. The window is open. The curtain blows in at the slightest breeze. It is warm even at dawn with the moon still visible. 

Her lover has already left. She sleeps in a shift of yellow gossamer-silk. Beneath this, thin silk trousers, their strings left trailing, undone. 

Now picture a man, standing nearby. He is dressed in a grey shirt with small white buttons and dark green trousers that sit low on his hips. His hair is uncombed and there are streak of gray. He is on his way home, distracted by memories of his own evening and of the long brown arms of the woman he held while her hair, smelling of lilac and cut grass, spilled over him. 

As he passes the open window of the woman, this woman, a woman whose hair he has also held in his hands, its scent more like charred embers, he sees the curtains open and blowing in the soft breeze. He peeks in to see her stretched there on the white sheets. He finds the door unlocked, lets himself in. 

Sensing his presence, she opens her eyes and sees him standing by the bed. She has not seen him in many months. She is not disturbed by his being there, but she is vexed that he has interrupted this particular morning’s sleep. 

“Only a very special evening would have you sleeping this late,” he says and he comes to her bed and sits perched on its edge. His boldness is stirring. 

“I am merely sleeping off my anger at a man who leaves before the dew is gone.”

They exchange words like this for a time and their banter is not without its charms. As they speak, he edges closer. Although she does not move away from him, she grows anxious, feels a flutter in her chest. Then, it is she who moves toward him, in a manner that is barely perceptible. And they carry on like this as the sky grows lighter and at last the sun is on the very verge of rising. 

He rises. Soon, he will speak to the woman in whose lilac-scented hair he had pressed his face only hours before. He thinks of what he will say to her, what moments of the evening he will relive and as he wanders back to the street, he finds himself wondering, in a somewhat bemused way, whether another man has similarly been visiting her bed, perching himself there in the space he had just left. 

[Flowering trees] The fig tree thrives in full sun. It needs to be kept warm for its fruits to ripen. 

The white mulberry tree loves sun and needs plenty of space around it. It is hearty and can provide shelter from the wind. The fruit is purple and often abundant and can be used to make a lovely wine. 

The leaves of the flowering pear tree turn a deep red in late fall and in the heat of the summer, the leaves are glossy and green. But it is the clusters of tiny white flowers with their perfectly rounded petals, delicately perfumed, in the early spring that truly can make you gasp with delight.