The high point of our days this time of year is dusk, when the moonflower datura unfurls its trumpets. The scent appears first, occasional wafts you can't quite place, drifting through the garden. At that time of day, we're trying to get some prosaic chore done in the brief period between baking sun and total dark. Something we've been putting off during the heat, like spading up a bed. The scent says "Stop a minute."
As the long, long buds start spiraling open, they stay sealed at the top, driving bumblebees crazy with longing. Then suddenly the shape changes. The trumpet unfurls.
It is only the large, shiny bumblebeess that appear every evening; perhaps they don't need to go to bed so early as the striped furry ones. Sometimes two or even three converge on the same flower. The trumpet shape amplifies their frenzied buzzing.
They roll and spin in ecstasy down in the throat of the flower. Then it gets too dark. They vanish. In the night, the scent is light, fugitive, unforgettable. Each flower tracks the course of the moon across the sky.
Jamie Chevalier lives and gardens on a river in the Coast Range of Northern California. She has gardened professionally in Alaska and California, as well as living in a remote cabin, commercial fishing, and working with seeds. She is the proprietor of Quail Seeds.