Monday, May 30, 2005

glories of the early spring garden

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;......

.....I gazed--and gazed--but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

(with apologies for this abridged version )--William Wordsworth,

Many varieties of narcissi were found all over the garden, these between the back deck and patio:

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These daffodils were some forced bulbs that I potted up with the pastel blue viola below. They were spectacular on the shady front steps of the house.

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Nothing needs to be said about the pure beauty of this white narcissus!

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This PJM Rhodo called 'Aglo', that remains in the pot I bought it in, because the bed it is to go into, in the shady front of the house, has to be weeded first of tons of lily of the valley, common gout weed, false solomon's seal and stinkweed seedlings.

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Some forced fabulous pink and white double tulips that I potted up with a white viola: Viola cornuta 'Sorbet Coconut'. I placed this pot too on the shady front steps of the house where the tulips shone for weeks. The white violas are still blooming strong and I haven't decided where to put them now that the tulips are spent.

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The aforementioned pastel blue viola, now repotted with calla lilies and placed on the shady front step of the house.

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housemates and doggie-pals!

Misty, blurry photo because she is in motion towards the photographer:
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Tasha, with Misty's legs in the background!
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One of my friends said she thought Border Collies are too smart as a breed for her to have one.  I agreed with her!  Oops, no, I didn't mean it like that...I mean, Border Collies are very smart....oh dear!  Honestly, Chris, I didn't mean to impugn your intelligence....try to extract foot...putting foot deeper in mouth...

Molly in motion

Molly in loco-motion:

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Molly in e-motion:
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Molly was spayed in May. As you can see, Molly did not suffer any obvious pain and had to be held back from following her house-mates and doggie pals, Misty and Tasha, about on their merry chases after squirrels and the like, something she did not like one bit! She also had surgery to try to repair "cherry eye", a condition in which the inner eye-lid herniates and looks like a painful (actually it is said to be painless) red cherry just inside the lower eyelid, in Molly's case. The vet tried to push the herniation back in and sutured it into place, but it did not take. We will need to visit the vet again.

wild flowers

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Hepatica americana

Blooming very early in the season, this was one of the first flowers to appear in my drier rocky woods this spring. Because the leaves appear to bear a resemblance to the liver, early herbalists assumed the plant to be effective in treating liver ailments.

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Trillium grandiflorum

The largest and most showy of the trilliums which bloomed in my woods this spring, it turns pink with age. Now a protected emblem of our province, in the past, the trillium's underground rootstalks were apparently used by aboriginal Indians for a variety of medicinal purposes, and the plants have also been picked and eated as cooked greens.

Also blooming right now, before the leaves of the overhead trees unfold completely and shade them out are the Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum), Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum); Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) and False Solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa).

I nearly had heart failure the other day. Coming home down my long lane through the woods, I noticed that our landlords' father had mowed the edges of the drive. Had he gone as far as the little patch of Jack-in-the-pulpit in the woods? I had to think back and when I couldn't remember, I backed the car up to check. No! Thank goodness the Jack-in-the pulpits still stood near the gate to the first field on the north side of the laneway.

Also in the wetter parts of the woods, the brown stems of horsetails are sprouting, tipped with spore cones. A plant without flowers or seeds, it has a branched rhizome which sends up a brownish-yellow, fertile, hollow, jointed stem that terminates in the spore cones. An ancient medicinal plant, the stems contain silica and other acids, minerals, vitamins and salts. The granular silica has been used to scour pots and pans and to polish wood in furniture and cabinet-making. It is apparently also an effective organic fungicide for black spot and mildew on garden plants. And the young horsetail shoots can be cooked and eaten with butter. Imagine!

Other wildflowers that I have noticed in bloom from the latter part of April to the end of May were:

  • Bloodroot Sanquinaria canadensis
  • Trout lily or dogtooth violets Erythronium americanum
  • Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara
  • Periwinkle Vinca minor
  • Marsh marigold or cowslip Caltha palustris
  • Mayapple or Mandrake Padophyllum peltatum
  • Early Meadow Rue Thalictrum dioicum
  • Common dandelion Taraxacum officinale
  • Wild Oats or Sessile Bellwort Uvularia sessilifolia
  • Lily of the valley Convallaria majalis

Of the plants listed above, only trout lily, early meadow rue, and sessile bellwort do not have some purported medicinal use from days gone by, to the best of my knowledge! Of course, to paraphrase a famous herbalist and wild crafter: all herbs should be used wisely and with caution, but all herbs should remain free for all, harvested with respect to the environment. The traditional wildcrafter often takes only one of a large patch of many of one species, so that plenty remains to propagate itself. And the wildcrafter with mystical wisdom leaves a gift of shells, pretty stones or feathers to thank the magic spirit of the plant. Mother Nature has a purpose for every single plant She has created and they should remain free and wild, free of pharmaceutical exploitation, free of copyrights, free of trendy markets and free of government regulation; the fool that misuses herbs ...thins the herd!!

Here's an image to make you green with envy. As I work in my garden, huge patches of lily of the valley exude their fragrance with such generosity that the slightest breeze wafts it all over the garden. There is lily of the valley in enormouse drifts in the beds at the west and north of the house, under the trees to the north of the house and behind the garage. Anybody want some lily of the valley?? When Mother Nature is generous, she is really, really, really generous...

In my living room, on a sidetable beside the reclining couch, a small blue glass jar holds a bunch of lily of the valley that perfumes the whole room. What luxury!

laughing buddha

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Ho Tai or Laughing Buddha , a statue in my garden, hidden now by the growing patch of weeds at the edge of the yard.

HO TAI or LAUGHING BUDDHA comes right out of Chinese folk lore. They say if you rub his belly, all your dreams come true. In China, HoTai is the God of Good Fortune and Guardian of Children. His overflowing round shape indicates abundance of inner wealth and a joy filled soul. He was an actual person, Ho-Tei-Shi, a Zen monk who did in fact have little regard for the transient qualities of dress or living conditions, but was renowned for his ability to delight the people with his eloquent reciting of Buddhist texts.

I need some dreams to come true, I need some abundance, good fortune and joy. If you see a 50-ish blonde, bending over a small fat statue in the garden and rubbing its belly....well, think what you like!

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blue door

unexplored by me as yet, an old abandoned house stands to the north east of my house, across the laneway that leads down over the crest of the hill to the lake, where some very fancy cottages and year-round homes have been built along the shores of Sturgeon Lake.

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on the other side of the house, the old doc has a marvelous vegetable garden that is sheltered on all sides by trees and the old house. Basking in the sun, this garden is probably the warmest and calmest of all the gardens on the farm.

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the old abandoned house

mysteries and stories seem to be closed up in this old house. Somewhat like old photographs that I like to pick up at yard sales and antique dealers, this old house seems sad and forgotten.

Here is the ancient floor,

Footworn and hollowed and thin,

Here was the former door

Where the dead feet walked in.

--Thomas Hardy

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More pics from the UBC Botanical Gardens'

My visit in April, 2005:
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Now, this is true colour. I saw a bouquet of artificially coloured flowers delivered to someone at work the other day, a blue that was horrible! I re-learned recently, from an expert fibre artist who often uses natural materials to dye her fibres, that naturally dyed colours are always easy to combine or match: any colour goes with any colour, as long as the dyes are from plant/natural materials. Matching artificially/commercially dyed fibres is much more challenging.

How's that for an opinionated rant?

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My Dad, who claimed to enjoy accompanying me to visit the gardens.  Anyway, he can still out-walk me any day!

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the fascinating and elegant peeling bark of a paperbark maple; need to get this for my garden!

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mini landscape from the UBC Botanical Garden rock gardens