Thursday, April 26, 2012

High Spring, Quasi-Miracles and Variegated Solomons Seal

Not my garden, just a gate I passed.

Ahhh--High Spring

 Post 35                  

Variegated Solomon's Seal & Tulips

Sometime in the spring, late April or May, you look at the garden and wonder, how has this happened? How does this fresh, sweet (for it smells of lilac, lily of the valley, and later, roses ) lushness of High Spring happen?  How can the piddling amount of work a human can do translate into this? And something fills up inside of you because no amount of work could turn into this. There is something like a miracle going on here that has nothing to do with work. For all that work is doing is giving a little goose to the quasi-miracle.         
  I am writing this while watching "Dancing with the Stars." I am a sucker for dancing and enjoy the dance routines. But slowing down the fun  is a competitive drama, replete with tearful protestations of hard work, full commitment and being in this to win/triumph/dominate. 
No one would argue that work is utterly necessary for great dancing. or great anything. But what exactly is this work?  Maybe on one level it is a privilege, a chance to participate in the real miracle: the miracle of  a healthy human body fully realizing its grace, beauty and balance.                                                                                                                                                      Now look at this flower on the left. It is dancing, its arms extended, its legs poised, its beaming head turned upward towards us, the audience. It is a part of nature just as we are part of nature, and nature is economical in how she creates her abundance. The same principles come into play. And Nature has more principles up her extended sleeve than just competition.                                                                                                                                                

Some say we are more than we know, just as any garden is more than what we can do. What plays in nature plays in us, allowing us to work just hard enough to feel as if we have helped make a part of the garden's beauty.

What powers my garden work? Love. And at High Spring I feel as if I can smell, taste and apprehend that love coming back to me in physical form. Within the year's cycle, it is as if here is where nature figures reciprocating love.

Variegated Solomon's Seal, Forget-me-Nots, Tulips, Adjuga, Grass
From little often comes much. Great things do not just come from competition, though that is the message our culture sends. Great things also come from cooperation, open communication and inspiration, especially if they are powered by real love. It is love in the garden that makes for what I call the Amended Golden Rule -- "if I were that individual member of a particular life-form, how would I want/need to be treated in order to properly flourish."  This is what allows lives to develop into their best true being. Without these glorious spring weeks, we might forget the peace and wholeness that the best really signifies.

Competition can be brutal and brutalizing. It can stamp out what is best in people as they pursue a limiting goal. It can breed anxiety, insecurity, depression and various partial escapes, especially addictions.

But if we are more than we can know; if we are more than what we can do--then there is more to the story. Gardening can lead us out of the ego's competitive trap. And it is good to learn wisdom firsthand,  through the work of your hands and the labor of your heart.

Variegated Solomon's Seal
So--what is this plant to the right? In this post, two of the pictures above also show it, but here it stands alone, an adaptive, easy, beautiful plant for semi-shade with a mighty and mystical name: Varigated Solomon's Seal (aka Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'.) In legend Solomon's Seal quelled demons with an insignia of the four elements balanced into wholeness. The plant got its name because if you detatch a stem away from its rhizome, you  see an image of the Seal; the Seal being what binds the sun-and-air-processing leaves and stem to the earth-and-water-gathering roots.

Ned Wolfe Park with Variegated Solomon's Seal,Creeping Phlox & Tulips

So here is a sign for High Spring, for balance, peace, wholeness and love. And of course it has variegated leaves as a sign that here on this earth, who of us is not?  And best of all, it plays well with others. Woodland flowers spring up around it in early spring before the trees take leaf. Its graceful flowering curve of small white bells blends in with gaudier tones. Then as summer approaches the other plants loose their flowers and the Solomon's Seal's variegation brightens up the otherwise pure green shade.


How to Solomon's Seal:  It does need some shade and some sun but is not too fussy about the proportion. It needs water, but once established is pretty drought-tolerant and its beautiful leaves usually stay fresh looking all summer. It is said to want good drainage but the large patch in the earlier picture has its feet in fairly compacted clay soil. It will reproduce easily, often at an exponential rate, but can be easily dug up. In short, an excellent plant.

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