Friday, October 14, 2011

Tweedia or Baby, It's Cold Outside

Pastorius Park
Post 11

There is that nip in the air. It's getting cold, and it is only going to get colder. We need stuff to keep us warm, to warm up our cockles and numb fingers. We need thick, strong stuff like cosy Polartec, down or tweed, maybe an old plaid Harris Tweed,  in landscape-like colors so worn the fabric has mellowed to the touch. I love the one at right, a fall view with a bit of sky in it.

A bit of sky...a few autumns ago I grew a Tweedia. The vine was a slow starter, did not even bloom till late August but then...what a September through November. People on the street stopped in their tracks because Tweedia is not one of those almost blues of the garden.  It is not the blue lavender of hardy Geraniums, mountain Bluet or Baptisia, fetching and periwinkle as those flowers are. Tweedia is different.

Tweedia is true, crisp, autumn sky, knock-your-eyes-out blue (though older petals can turn a cobalt violet that only highlights the turquoise center burr.) Plus, its petals are fleshy, squishy thick. It is a fairy tale flower tough enough for the real world. People would ask what it was. I would tell them only to see their eyes grow even more incredulous. How could something so beautiful be so unknown? Its bloomed, soldiering on as its world grew colder and colder. It kept my heart warm that autumn. Even after a hard frost put an end to it, its extaordinary beauty kept an inner bit of my heart warm through a long winter.

Pastorius Park
It is implausible impossibles like this that sometimes get us through the rough bits. Call it finding your inner strength, turning to God, seeing through illusion, shifting frames or wrapping yourself up in that indestructible, warm tweed. All withstanding, when you face the cold that should not be, and face it with goodwill, sincerity and humility, it can be a blessing what answers back from within you.

Tweedia is a fairy tale flower in the real world.  
But, like a blessing, it may not make everything alright. Suffering remains suffering, and suffering does real damage in the real world. In the real world, we need more than just our own blessings. We also need each others', real world blessings as well, especially: compassion, forgiveness, merciful justice and moral action.

It is getting colder. Soon it will be Halloween. So Happy Halloween, All Saints and All Souls. May our youngest adorables dress up as goblins and prowl the twilight for candy, laughing at darkness, death and fear. And may we remember all who have loved us and gently made a way for us, all the real fairy-tale flowers in our lives, whose love, like a good stong tweed blanket, has been woven to keep us warm through the night.

How-to Tweedia: Tweedia caeruleum (sometimes called Oxypetalum caeruleum,) is a short vine from southern Brazil that we can grow as an annual.  It is not usually sold potted up so you have to start it from seed, which can be purchased from SummerHill Seeds. The seeds need warmth, between 70 and 80 degrees to germinate, so think of using a heating pad under the tray. Since Tweedia is a milkweed you need hardly cover the seeds, which should germinate in a few weeks. When you plant it out make sure to put it in a hot, dryish spot; it hates wet. Place it where it is easy to see. The flowers, are small, though, as Spencer Tracy might say, choice.

And, in case you think my trope of Tweedia/Tweed outlandish, take thought of this. Tweedia was introduced to the West by James Tweedie, a Scot, who was head gardener at Edinburgh Botanical Garden till he chucked it all and bolted to Buenos Aires, where he kept a small store and went off on plant-hunting expeditions. It was during one of these that he discovered Tweedia and, though he never darkened Scotland's mire again, he did send some seeds back home.

Now, what do you think an old-fashioned, Brit head gardener would tend to wear? Look and you will see an answer.  And tell me what that jacket is made of? Polyester? Egads, no.
And as for a wonderful wool blanket to pass on to later generations, look here at: Swans Island Blankets


Mike said...

I love the fresh autumn night air

Kay Wisniewski said...

Curled up in my quilt--why wouldn't you?