Crocus flower- myth and sentiment

Crocus (Krokos), once a beautiful mortal youth who loved a nymph named Smilax, let his impatience get the better of him, (unrequited love?) ultimately angering the gods. They turned him into a spring blossom.

It seems he didn’t learn his lesson re: impatience.  A win for us as the purple, white, or yellow flower he encompasses still hurries, not for nymphs, but to be one of the first blossoms to greet the spring among melting snow.

There’s another version of the Crocus myth which involves Hermes, the messenger of the gods. Said to be lovers, and while participating in athletic games together, a discus thrown by Hermes hit Crocus upon the head, killing him instantly. Hermes, grief-stricken, transformed his lover into the spring flower we all know and love.

In any case, myth or not, it is a sight for sore eyes to see these lovely, seemingly delicate but not, flowers bloom after a long winter.


 

 

March: In like a lion, I’d say. But, houseplants keep me sane.

You know that old proverb, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”

I suppose that’s especially true here in Ontario because March straddles winter and spring.

It tends to offer harsh or inclement weather, exactly like the kind of snow squalls we’re experiencing today.

This is what I’d call a lion! Unpleasant weather in the beginning of the month.

As the saying goes on to state, it’s then supposed to become milder and more palatable weather by the end of March.  I’ll believe it when I see it. 😉

In the meantime I’ve been fussing over my houseplants. I get to this point in winter where the season has lost its charm. The snow’s not pretty any longer, and I’m sick of shovelling.

More importantly, there’s too much of it on top of my garden, which makes me think I won’t be outside walking around barefoot anytime soon! Likely mid-May.

But back to the houseplants, I have more than many, and less than some.

When I closed my business I scaled back on the amount of greenery around the house, which is a good thing in hindsight, considering there’s only so many spots for plants, but I’m not above buying another, or accepting a cutting from a friend.

The plants I’ve kept are getting me through winter. Especially this winter!

They take my mind off of the pandemic and help to keep my focus on being a nurturer of sorts, instead of paying too much attention to things in the outside world that I cannot change.

Winter can be bleak and dark and monochromatic, which means I long for the greenery and lush scenery of spring and summer. Isn’t it just good for the soul to drink in nature? Winter means less drinking for us, but for plants, ironically it means more.

I take each of my plants to the sink. I water them until they can’t absorb another drop. That way the whole root ball gets a drink, meaning healthier plants. It takes a bit more time, but I’ve got that in spades right now til I’m back at work.

In winter, with the oil furnace blasting dry heat, I find plants dry out much more quickly than they do in the summer when there’s more humidity in the air.

The sun is also lower in the sky right now, so more sunlight comes in the windows, that is when the sun isn’t hiding behind snow-laden clouds.

Some of my larger plants like the amaryllis get a trip to the bathtub.

I give them a big drink and let them drain out so as not to have a mess on the table where they normally live.

That way too, I can mist the foliage and give them a chance to feel like they’re in their natural habitat once in a while, instead of my very dry winter house.

Though all the plants seem to thank me for the good care I offer as they continue to thrive in this completely alien environment in which they find themselves, some will even offer gratitude in the form of a flower. Then I know I’ve done right by them and enjoy the blooms of winter, which are possibly more precious than the perennial flowers whose blooms I’ve come to expect each year out in the garden.

I can’t imagine a house with out houseplants. Even just a pot of herbs for cooking. Basil will thrive in a bit of sunlight and you can pinch some to offer fresh flavour all year long.

And seriously, not having at least one plant would be akin to not having art on one’s walls! Boring, flat and without personality. Their life adds depth to ours. They help clean the air and offer a way to excercise our need to nurture something. 🙂

In closing, I’d love to hear about your houseplants.

I’m also happy to help with any questions on how yours can thrive too, if they happen to seem a little sad this time of year and you’re not sure what to do.

With the March lion out there today, I’m not surprised if some plants aren’t beside themselves jumping for joy. 😉 But this too shall pass… In the meantime, stay safe & warm, everyone.

Happy indoor gardening, for now!

 

The art of Canadian wild flowers

Irises and Lady slipper orchids

“Canadian Wild Flowers” (1868) was one of the first serious botanical works about nature and plant species in Canada 🇨🇦

Offering many beautiful lithographs of the wildflowers found in this country, this pictorial work written by Catharine Parr Traill & illustrated by Agnes Chamberlin, was a notable accomplishment for women at a time when we were largely unwelcome in a male-dominated scientific world.  –  The entire book is in the Public Domain and free to view online through the BHL digital library portal, with thanks to the Canadian Museum of Nature: HERE

A dose of art and the beauty of nature might help take our minds off the chaos currently taking hold of our world, if only for a little while.  Stay safe, everyone.

Flower Language – the art of communication in a time of social distancing

Lily-of-the-valley

Within the context of the current chaos we face around the world, social distancing will likely be the way we communicate, at least for now, until this virus abates and is eradicated.

There are many ways we communicate. Along with speaking directly to one another, we have email, texting, social media, and even photography. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Hellebore

With respect to the thought of being isolated for the next while, I’d like to point out how nature and gardens have been a refuge for many in anxious times. Certainly they have been for me.

Further to the point of communicating, I’d like to touch on the language of flowers. 

This form of connecting with one another was popular during the Victorian era, but actually goes back much further in time.

People have been using flowers as a way to convey an idea or a message  for thousands of years.

Through a gift of single blossom, the person on the receiving end of that floral gift would know exactly what the sender was trying convey. Flowers have a vocabulary all their own.

Tulip – Friendship & Gratitude

Every flower has its own distinct meaning, so any requirement of a verbal or written message would not be required.

So, I’m sharing some of my favourite flowers and their meanings here that relate to the times we currently find ourselves in.

Daffodil – Rebirth & New beginnings

It’s my hope to offer a little optimism, and encourage some positive thinking, and perhaps even a little less anxiety for the near future.

We’ll get through it together, only separately! 😉

 

Stay well everyone and keep in touch.

Rosemary for remembrance – Illustration by Walter Crane, Public domain

 

Baptisia – A blue flowered beauty for any garden!

Baptisia, also known as false indigo, is a genus in the legume family, Fabaceae.

This herbaceous flowering perennial offers pea-like flowers that once pollinated, produce pea-like seed pods.

The bees love these flowers, which means food for them, and in turn, allows me to collect the seeds and sow them all around the garden.

Native to woodlands in eastern North America, the species most commonly cultivated is called Baptisia australis, which is the one shown in my photo.

Baptisia species are food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the lovely Jaguar Flower moth, Schinia jaguarina.

Baptisia grows to 3 feet tall and form wide clumps that might need some support when they’re heavily laden with seed heads.

They’ll really thrive in full sun, but do well with some shade, too. Once established, they’re quite drought tolerant, and, it’s best to leave them alone. The deep roots of this plant do not appreciate being moved.

I love Baptisia, not just because its flowers are a bee magnet, but because deer won’t eat them, and because they offer a real true blue flower in the garden.

In the garden, they look great combined with any other colour nature offers, but I love them paired with purple coneflower, clumps of lavender, tall white phlox, purple liatris, and big Rudbeckias.

Along with blue, Baptisia also offers gardeners white or yellow flowers. I’ll be on the lookout for those this coming year!

Just a note on toxicity, apparently the leaves are somewhat toxic, (hence the deer not eating them), and I think the seeds are too, so though they’re related to the Pea family, they’re definitely not edible. Don’t eat them!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Gardening!