Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Light in the Winter Garden

Post 19
No, the garden is not over.

Nandina berries hang above angel by the door, the Heavenly Bamboo's lush foliage uplit by the variegated euonymus underneath

On the other side of the door, the Camellia, which last year did not bloom till February, now looks like it will soon mean business.

And this morning it did.

And another surprise, this one so unlikely as to bring a rush of wonder.

A violet. In spring violets cram the hellstrip, and in midfall there may be some rebloom...but in December? A December violet?

"A violet by a mossy stone,
Half hidden from the eye!
Fair as a star, when only one 
Is shining in the sky."

An image I have loved since High School, now, for a moment, seen.

The image comes from a group of poems by Wordsworth called "The Lucy Poems." His flower is of spring and isolation, growing along untrodden ways. But here is a very different violet indeed, one between well trodden sidewalk, stone and city street, blooming close to St Lucy's day.
--(If you live around Philadelphia and are open to Christian folk festivals (with strong pagan influence), get thee to Gloria Dei, Old Swedes Church to see a lovely antithesis to commercial pre-Christmas festivity.
Lucia Fest & St. Eric’s Fair at Old Swedes’ ChurchDecember 9-11, 2011Fri Dec. 9 - 6pm and 8pmSat and Sun Dec 10-11  2pm, 3:30pm and 5pm)--
Back to the garden... the hydrangeas still please

The grasses bend...
An azalea opens...
The roses bloom.

Early winter/late fall is not all brown after all, but can be full of good surprises. Less pie in your eye than midsummer, the light, nevertheless, remains sufficient to the day. Not a bad lesson to learn.

How to violet: Common Blue Violet or Viola papilionacea is another one of those plants that is hard to buy, but easy to find around. Yes, in proper conditions it will rapaciously self-seed, so keep it out of any place where you do not want it to spread. It flowers in spring in waste places that are moist and have dappled shade. Given enough moisture and shade the plants will continue till frost. In dry years or places, the plant will disappear, only to return the following spring.  And it is not just their shy beauty that is fetching, it is their odor as well. It is also an edible flower and looks lovely in salads, ice cream and on cupcakes.

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