May is Honeysuckle Time

When we think of the honeysuckle, we have mixed feelings. Invasive? Bee-filled danger. Sweet nectarous blooms. Scent of the newly hot nights of May.


For Philip Freneau, called “That Rascal” and “The Poet of the American Revolution,” The Wild Honeysuckle may have been the beginning of American Transcendentalism:

Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat,
Untouched thy homed blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet:
No roving foot shall crush thee here,
No busy hand provoke a tear.

By Nature’s self in white arrayed,
She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,
And planted here the guardian shade,
And sent soft waters murmuring by;
Thus quietly thy summer goes,
Thy days declining to repose.

Smit with those charms, that must decay,
I grieve to see your future doom;
They died—nor were those flowers more gay,
The flowers that did in Eden bloom;
Unpitying frosts, and Autumn’s power,
Shall leave no vestige of this flower.

From morning suns and evening dews
At first thy little being came;
If nothing once, you nothing lose,
For when you die you are the same;
The space between is but an hour,
The frail duration of a flower.

In Bluegrass, Honeysuckle can be a Rose or a band name.

For birders, Honeysuckle is a way to attract hummingbirds.

Children reading “The Fairy Night Caps” in 1861 learned:

Of course the elderly gentlemen fairies lounged among the honeysuckles, and talked politics, and quarrelled dreadfully about who should be the next President; for they took an immense interest in the affairs of us mortals; and the elderly lady fairies just as much, of course, pulled the characters of their best friends to pieces, without so much as a single regret; while the lovely young Queen, with half-a-dozen of her favorites, after dancing once, to set the fashion, ordered her pages to shake down a perfect shower of wild-rose leaves, on the edge of the hollow, of which they made soft and freshly perfumed couches; and there they listened to the exquisite music, and watched the dancers, and gaily devised plans for the comfort of our dear little friend, Lame Charley.

Sweet in all ways, save the invasive varieties, but now in season with the nectar ready to put to good use as sorbet and more.