The Latin name of Eranthis has its roots in Greek and combines spring and flower, a very nice and welcome combination. The common name: winter aconite, is slightly malicious as it refers to the poisonous sap of a summer blooming plant called Aconitum napellus, whose usually blue flowers resemble majestic inflorescences of larkspur. But in no way do they have the look of bright yellow Eranthis, whose buds appear unimaginably early like... February. Yes, they are poisonous, but nobody wants to eat them. Flying insects are probably of a different opinion for the flowers secrete sweet nectar and offer some tasty pollen, so the winged creatures must be very happy to find a place to eat after long winter months of starvation. As we enjoy observing their busy lunchtime we can also satisfy our eyes with golden yellow flowers, the forerunners of far more busy moments to come.
"Once upon a time the Virgin was slowly waking to Jerusalem carrying her little baby in her arms. She wanted to present her beloved son to the Temple. The weather was hot and she knew that soon she would have to feed the infant. She sat quietly in a nearby garden and begun to nurse the baby when suddenly... she had a horrible vision which made her weep without consolation. She saw the future fate of her son and started trembling with horror. As she shook, the mouth of the baby pulled loose from her teat and several milk drops fell onto the leaves of a plant growing next to her feet. At the same time her tears dropped on the little buds changing them pink red, the colour of her weeping eyes. When the buds opened into flowers, they were as blue as Mary's veil." That was the way how Jerusalem cowslip or Mary's milk drops, or Adam and Eve, or soldiers and sailors, or spotted dog, or lungwort, or Pulmonaria officinalis appeared in the world.
And extremely easy to find because it can be grown on... a window sill. Unlike the four-leaf clover whose dubious or at least mutable existence makes all of us spend hours in the meadow, busily scanning all growing shamrock to find a reward: a four-leaf trefoil. You really are lucky if you find one. However, if you do not feel like hunting for luck in the field and would like to have at home a potful of lucky leaves - without any substantial effort - all you need to do is buy a bag of small bulbs labelled: Oxalis deppei or Iron Cross (its common name) and simply plant them in a pot. Within two or three weeks the first lucky leaves will appear and start working wonders. Some of them are even observable as the leaves move. Botanists have coined a somewhat little flattering term for that activity and call it nasty. Well, it is the photonasty.
I was destined to be born gardener. In order to become a professional one I had to enjoy years of studying at various schools and universities... read more