Autumn is like an old book:
Marred spines turn mean yellow,
staples rust red-orange.
Every stained page is stressed
by a splat of color. Rough-red,
like an old tavern,
we become hungry birds
and prepare for fall.
Shape and shadow are candied citron
as lanterns turn bitter yellow. Autumn
is a red fox, a goblet filled with dark wine,
a hot chilli pepper with smoky eyes.
Pressed leaves take in the colors
of seafood paella and saffron; these leaves
are like death, climaxing with a smile.
Autumn: Her dress is a net of mussels;
dark shelled, it covers up
summer’s weatherbeaten body.
So pull out your boots
and stand on an aged, wood floor
like an evergreen.
Mary Hamrick : "Autumn"
It happened long time ago in a country that never existed. A happy country whose only inhabitants were gods of all sorts. Filled with insatiable longing for beauty, the almighty gods resolved to create a flower, a perfect flower, far more beautiful than all the flowers thriving in the endless and colourful meadows of the country. Surprisingly, the realisation of the dream appeared to be impossible, as the divine designers could not work out the shape for that perfect flower. All suggested forms fell short of their expectations. They were all too inferior. The initial enthusiasm slowly morphed into doubt and then despair, which had never been favourite emotions among gods. Suddenly, one of them cried that he had seen an ideal shape they might copy. It was...
"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.
All begonias are unsurpassed, but this one is The Unsurpassed. Tuberous begonia- as the name suggests- grows from tubers whose appearance does not indicate nothing near the overwhelming beauty of the flowers they bring into the world. Being a fortunate result of multiple hybridisations this unusual plant has produced so many and so different cultivars that leafing through a catalogue - where they are portrayed- can cause uncontrollable but fruitful dizziness. Inspired by that aesthetically shocking experience, we should not wait any moment longer and order a lot of magic tubers. Time flies and quite soon they will have to be planted into pots to trigger the sleeping forces hidden inside.
Siberian Flag is beautifully blue. And graceful. And... . There is a long list of outstanding characteristics in the catalogue which illustrate this particular perennial. Two of them deserve special attention, though: reliable and eternal. If we want to understand the essential meaning of the word 'perennial', Iris sibirica satisfies all possible questions and doubts we might harbour. It is an everlasting plant whose elegant flowers appear every late spring adorning gardens with hopeful blues and purples that are so hard to match. Only delphiniums might consider competing with these irises but instead, they only prove to be a perfect complement to Siberian Flag: a vertical one, whereas Iris sibirica expands its blue clouds rather horizontally. What a lucky -and geometric- coincidence they bloom at the same time.
Spiderwort is not spider plant nor spider flower. If not, what is its relation with spiders? None! However, after a closer inspection of the open spiderwort blooms, we might find some justification for the common name of Tradescantia x andersoniana, just in the middle of each of them - a tuft of downy hairs, a straightforward (or farfetched) resemblance to a delicate spiderweb. Anyone who dreads looking at spiders will probably willingly accept another interpretation, e.g., a delicate cosmetic brush. This one is much closer to beauty than spiders are and definitely exposes better the somewhat modest assets of this charming yet underestimated perennial: decorative leaves, profuse flowering and exceptional durability.
Maybe not of wisdom itself but definitely of someone who is said to have been extremely wise: Solomon. And here the puzzle begins. Why should a rhizomatous plant have anything in common with one of the most reverenced biblical figures who "the whole world sought audience with to hear the wisdom God had put in Solomon's heart"? Nobody knows. There are more or less plausible explanations why, and the more we try to understand the mystery the more we want to have that symbol of sagacity in our garden. It does not hurt to grow something so closely related to that noble quality, does it? And the appearance of the plant perfectly matches its symbolic meaning for in the case of Polygonatum, both the wisdom and beauty reside in one home.
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