Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring and Wildflowers

I love reading out of print wildflower or garden books, especially when they are from the 1800's or early 1900's. I love the descriptive writing style and the peek they give us into the gardens and woods of their time. Today I am reading How To Know The Wild Flowers by Mrs. William Starr Dana. The edition I have was updated and published in 1900.

I looked up Trout Lilies, which are also known as Yellow Adder's Tongue, Dog's Tooth Violets. Each spring they are the first wildflower on our property to bloom.

The writer is unhappy with the two English names "there is little reason for calling a lily a violet", and she feels it in no way resembles an adder's tongue. However, she writes that the name trout-lily is not without charm, but prefers the name "fawn lily". She describes the flower as such:

We direct our steps toward one of those hollows in the wood which is watered by such a clear gurgling brook as must appeal to every country-loving heart; and there where the pale April sunlight filters through the leafless branches, nod myriads of these lilies, each one guarded by a pair of mottled, erect, sentinel-like leaves.

I often read this book for inspiration before or after I take a walk on our property. I always remember to keep an eye out for wild treasures that I might otherwise miss if I was in a rushed frame of mind.

I ran across another book I was given by family who know I love out of print homemaking and gardening books. It's a book of advice columns that were published in the Detroit News during the 1930's called Acres of Friends. This was before the days of Ann Landers where a long answer was at the most a couple of paragraphs. Readers "questions" went on for pages, and the answers much the same. The writing is very dramatic and often over the top, but there are some neat tidbits. One of which is this poem about spring; Bouquet from April, 1935:

Daffodils with green leaves for handles;
High tea at noon.
Violets, tiny, satin-breeched heralds of Spring,
Flushed with the lovely purple tints
Of cool and lingering twilight.
Acacia, Soft, yellow pom-poms, for the caps
Of dancing, fairy clowns
In shimmering moonglow.
~Muvver Lou

As you walk outside this week, think of the spring flowers as poetry and allow some whimsical words and thoughts as you stroll. It's nice to take yourself out of an often black and white world to dream a little.

On OFL I wrote a nice article on growing rhubarb, another spring favorite: