Thoughts of Spring and Crocus flowers lead me to the garden

n the first day of Spring my thoughts always lead me to the garden.

One of the first flowers to greet me after a long winter is the lovely Crocus.

With petal colours varying from white, purple, yellow, and even striped, this small perennial bulb, (corm), planted in autumn for its spring show, originates from the Alps, and offers abundant blossoms that brighten up the beds, often while other parts of the my garden are still heavily laden with snow.

Ancient legend relates Crocus as an unfortunate lover. The myth centres around his unfulfilled and tragic love for Smilax, a woodland nymph, also transformed but in her case, as a brambly vine. His sorrow it is said, awakened sympathy from the gods who aided his metamorphosis into what we now know as this dainty spring flower.

According to old lists containing flower meanings, the Crocus flower is equated to both ‘Spring’ and ‘cheerfulness’. And why not after a long, dreary winter?! Both meanings seem quite appropriate!

Out from the heart of the Crocus,
There leaped to my heart a song,
It was as though an angel
Had borne the word along,
And its message drew and held me,
Until my soul was strong.

~ E.M. Hill

Saffron, the stigma from Crocus sativus is a very expensive spice. Along with being a food additive, it scents perfumes, cosmetics, and is a component of traditional medicines. Studies show it works as an anti-carcinogentic, boosts the immune system, and is an antioxidant.

Shown on frescoes dating from 1700 B.C., it’s no wonder this flower has been cultivated and harvested since ancient times in the Middle East, North Africa, India, and throughout the Mediterranean region.

In any case, with three feet of snow still to melt in my neck of the woods, I’ll think of this flower, and others, biding my time until I get to enjoy their presence once again.

Happy Spring!


 

The Subtle Splendour of Snowdrops in Springtime

Admired for their subtle splendour, Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), are small flowering bulbs originating from Eastern Europe and Russia. Nowadays, this ornamental plant is naturalized around the world.

A precursor to spring, the snowdrop is one of the earliest flowers blooming in our gardens. A welcome sight to many after a long, cold winter, including me.

As an early flowering plant, snowdrops are an important early spring food source for pollinators.

According to lore, snowdrops were once held sacred as flowers representing virginity during medieval times, which may account for their naturalized state near convents and monastic buildings.

“A flow’r that first in this sweet garden smiled,
To virgins sacred, and the Snowdrop styled.”Thomas Tickell

Peasants in some parts of England considered it unlucky to take a sprig into a house. Single flowers were harbingers of impending death, so I wonder if a bouquet would have been a safer bet?! In any case, this flower was viewed as a death-token by peasants who looked at it like it was a shrouded corpse. I suppose there’s no accounting for taste!

However, knowing that the whole plant is toxic, bulb included, perhaps some poor medieval soul took a bulb inside, ate it thinking it was a shallot, and promptly met their maker. My own speculation, but perhaps that’s how folklore surrounding all sorts of morbidity begins . In this case and others, we’ll not likely ever know!

In any case, right now, snowdrops are blooming in many parts of Europe and the British Isles. I won’t likely see them popping up in my garden for another six weeks or so, but until then, I’ll live vicariously, viewing photos on social media from people across the pond or in the lower U.S. states, where spring is ready to roll!

– Anticipation seems to be the mainstay of many a gardener!

The Spirit Garden – An examination of life through flowers and plants

When one tends a garden, one tends to contemplate life. It’s very simple. Sometimes this examination is purely on a physical level; i.e. the plants right in front of our face. Other times it’s a more of a philosophical nature, one that reaches beyond the border of our property, nurturing our senses towards self introspection, leading to the creation of a spiritual garden.

If nothing else, gardening has taught me much. Not just about myself, but many life lessons have been transferred from plants to this person.

When  one views the world as a garden, one is more apt to engage nature with all the senses, as well as the mind and heart. Simply by observing and engaging in what nature has to offer, people have the ability to grow, not unlike a garden.

  • Equate weeds to negativity and flowers to the good things in your life. Take some time and pull the weeds out or they’ll spread, choking out all the flowers you wish to flourish.
  • Equate flowers to human beings. A diverse garden with many types of plants is worth celebrating and exploring. Can anyone, gardener or not, imagine a plot consisting of only one type of flower? How utterly boring.
  • Equate your garden to where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. A garden never stays the same and like life, change is inevitable.
  • Some plants wither and die. Chuck ’em in the compost and move on. Sometimes nothing will keep them alive. That goes for some relationships, too. People are really like flowers and will add joy and happiness to your garden, and not take it away.
  •  Corporate gardens are easy to spot. Usually heavily manicured, clipped, and planted overnight with annuals for instant gratification, they reside in front of many a sterile building, appearing like oppressive backdrops touting perfection, which is not possible in reality. They lack creativity and offer little or no benefit to local wildlife or sustenance for pollinators. What does bloom is dead-headed, discarded, and never allowed to set seeds for next year. They devolve in to a barren environment for most of the year, and tall poppies need not apply.
  • Cutting back taller flowers will not make the smaller ones look better.
  • Stay connected to your roots. Many a plant in my garden can be traced to a memory, a friend, a family member who may no longer alive, or a beloved place I can no longer visit. Nurturing those plants keeps those memories alive!
  • Every plant has its season. Enjoy them as they bloom. Live in the moment, as does each plant. Know that when it has finished blooming for the time being, it will be back next year to enjoy all over again.
  • Spending time in nature is healing. Don’t just work in the garden. Take the time to sit and enjoy the effort you’ve put in to it.
  • A garden won’t grow without water. Sometimes in life it rains, but this is good for the garden, and the sun will shine again.
  • Some people will not like your garden. That’s okay! Each garden offers the personality of the gardener. If they were all the same, the world would be a very boring place indeed.
  • The power of contemplation originates in abandonment of self. For example, if I’m feeling down or dwelling on something, I go to the garden. My thoughts stop inserting themselves and my focus is on what’s in front of me instead of what was troubling me. Gardening really is like burying your troubles in the dirt!
  • Gardening is a living canvas. As an artist who could not paint for several years, I found another way to be creative by designing my garden, and others, which offered an alternative outlet to explore all kinds of ideas, colours, textures, all the while offering inspiration to get back to painting when the time was right!

Shall add to this as I go along!

Would love to hear your garden thoughts.

Thanks for visiting!