Posts Tagged ‘writing about flowers’

may sarton p20110614-235734

Moments Of Flowering – 22/52, BlackBerry 52, Golden Valley, Minnesota, June 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Medium: original Droid snapshot of the last peony in our garden, June 2011. Polaroid effect and text added with Little Photo. Jump-Off from Lotus: Not Even Deep Into The Summer, a haiga collaboration with Robin from Life In The Bogs.

Dark clouds pile high over the hill, whipped cream on dirty snow. The sky smells like damp moss and rotting leaves. I squat in a swarm of rain-ready mosquitoes, and aim the camera toward the one surviving peony not browning at the edges. Though strong, she will falter under the weight of the next crack of thunder, pregnant with hard rain. Aching knees. I swat away a bead of sweat, listen to the pretend shutter click.

The pink peony lures me in, along with a lonely ant crawling toward the vortex of petals, sucked in like the prey of a Venus Flytrap. I think of a page from May Sarton’s journal—Journal of a Solitude, the entry from June 23rd. Summer in New Hampshire could be Summer in Minnesota. The humidity feels heavy. The world has gone mad. Too much happens these days. But the peony rises every year from buried piles of January snow, from the trampling of the mailman over her Winter stalks, from under the tire tracks of the neighbor’s SUV the night it drifted off the pitched driveway and on to the muddy grass.

It takes a whole year of work to bloom. I pay attention to the garden. My whole life comes alive there.


June 23rd

Almost too much happens these days. How can I be enough aware of all that opens and dies so quickly in the garden? It takes a whole year of work and waiting for this supreme moment of the great snow-white peonies—and then they are gone! I was thinking about it as I lay in bed this morning, and also of Mildred’s wise remark, “The roots of love need watering or it dies.” When she leaves, the house is at peace. Beauty and order have returned, and always she has left behind a drop of balm, such as that phrase; so her work here is a work of art. There is a mystical rite under the material act of cleaning and tidying, for what is done with love is always more than itself and partakes of the celestial orders.

It does not astonish or make us angry that it takes a whole year to bring into the house three great white peonies and two pale blue iris. It seems altogether right and appropriate that these glories are earned with long patience and faith (how many times this late spring I have feared the lilacs had been frost-killed, but in the end they were as glorious as ever before), and also that it is altogether right and appropriate that they cannot last. Yet in our human relations we are outraged when the supreme moments, the moments of flowering, must be waited for…and then cannot last. We reach a summit, and then have to go down again.

   —May Sarton from Journal of a Solitude. First Published 1973, by W.W. Norton & Company.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, June 17th, 2011

-related to posts: The Ant & The Peony, WRITING TOPIC — NAMES OF FLOWERS, Secrets of the Passion Flower, WRITING TOPIC — SPRING CLEANING — (HOMEMADE CLEANING REMEDIES)

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coral blush, my favorite among my mother-in-law’s decades-old geranium plants, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

in february
four potted geraniums
sit by a window

-related to posts haiku (one-a-day) and WRITING TOPIC – NAMES OF FLOWERS

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The Ant & The Peony, a garden haiku, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


benevolent myth
growing in gardens worldwide
do ants open buds?


Do Ants Open Peonies?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

When the peonies on the side of our house start to bud in June, lines of ants quickly follow. Until a moment ago, I believed that ants licked the sugar off the peonies, helping their transition from bud to bloom. Turns out that’s a myth. According to Robert F. Gabella at GardenOpus, the ants’ annual ritual of  “tickling of the buds” occurs because they are attracted to the sweet resin on the peonies; the buds would open regardless of the ants.

Of course, it’s more fun to bury my head in the compost and keep believing that the ant has a reciprocal and benevolent relationship to the peony, much like the mythology surrounding the ant and the grasshopper — (for more detail, see ybonesy’s post The Ant & The Grasshopper – Ann Patchett & Lucy Grealy). For me, the myth is more delicious than the truth; perhaps the ant wants to keep its little secret.


Do Ants Open Peonies?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A few other Fun Facts about peonies:


  • they may not flower until after the first season
  • established peonies can be heavy feeders
  • peonies are especially needy of potassium (essential for stem strength and disease resistance)
  • herbaceous peonies are known to remain in the same position, undisturbed, for over a century
  • after cutting, you can remove ants from peonies by using a mild soap spray or dish detergent (from The Old Farmer’s Almanac)
  • ants do provide protection–they attack other bud-eating pests by stinging, biting, or spraying them with acid and tossing them off the plant (also from The Old Farmer’s Almanac)

If you are like me, you spend a lot of time digging in the dirt and constantly have questions about plants and gardening solutions. Do you know the names of your flowers? Maybe you have trouble with groundhogs or slugs, or need advice about seed startingpassion flowers, or orchids. You can read more tips from award-winning horticulturist, hybridist, photographer and author Robert F. Gabella at GardenOpus (also found on Twitter!)


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, June 18th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), Ghost With A Green Thumb, PRACTICE: Digging in the Dirt – 10min

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Black-Eyed Susans, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Black-Eyed Susans, Rudbeckia hirta, near a memorial on the former Hamilton Plantation, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

tabby walls of shell
constant circles bloom and grow
acres lost in time

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, September 5th, 2008

-related to posts: haiku (one-a-day), WRITING TOPIC – NAMES OF FLOWERS

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Passion Flower, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Passion Flower, (Passiflora Incense), Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

raw beauty rises
from pine needles and sandspurs
ground dry as a bone

purple passion blooms
not a flower but a vine
wilting Georgia heat

veined leaves swallow sun
digest light into flowers
one day of glory

Life Blood (Of The Passion Flower), Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Not A Flower But A Vine, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Not A Flower But A Vine, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Life Blood (Of The Passion Flower), Not A Flower But A Vine, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Post Script:  I feel fortunate to have gotten these shots last week. I had never seen a Passion Flower up close; I found out later that many species only bloom one day a year (much like the Prickly Pear cactus). If Mom had not turned her head out the car window that day, I would have lived another year without experiencing this beautful flower in the flesh.

I am grateful that Mom knows her flowers. (Thank you, Mom. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Sis and Uncle B.!) Here are some other secrets of the Passiflora from different sites (the Wikipedia entry is excellent with photographs of many of the different species):

  • ABOUT THE PASSIFLORA:  9 species of Passion Flower (out of about 500) are native to the United States, found from Ohio to the north, west to California and south to the Florida Keys. Most are vines, some are shrubs, a few species are herbaceous. The fruit of the passiflora plant is called passionfruit. The bracts are covered by hairs which exude a sticky fluid that sticks to insects. Studies have suggested this might be an adaptation similar to carnivorous plants.
  • ONE DAY:  In Victorian times the flower (which in all but a few species lasts only one day) was very popular and many hybrids were created.
  • HERBAL REMEDIES:  The leaves and roots have a long history of use among Native Americans in North America. Passiflora edulis and a few other species are used in Central and South America. The fresh or dried leaves are used to make an infusion, a tea that is used to treat insomnia, hysteria, and epilepsy, and is also valued for its painkilling properties. Some contain beta-carboline harmala alkaloids which are MAOIs with anti-depressant properties.
  • POLLINATION:  Decorative passifloras have a unique flower structure, which requires a large bee to effectively pollinate. In the American tropics, wooden beams are mounted very near passionfruit plantings to encourage Carpenter bees to nest. Some species can be pollinated by hummingbirds, bumble bees, wasps; others are self-pollinating.
  • WHAT’S IN A NAME?  Passion Flower does not refer to love, but to the Christian theological icon of the passion of Christ on the cross. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries discovered this flower and adopted its unique physical structures as symbols of Crucifixion. The radial filaments which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower represent the Crown of Thorns. The 10 petals and sepals represent the 10 faithful apostles. The top 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the lower 5 anthers represent the 5 wounds.
  • KNOWN ACROSS THE WORLD:  In Spain, Passiflora is known as Espina de Cristo (Christ’s Thorn). In Germany it was once known as Muttergottes-Schuzchen (Mother-of-God’s Star). In Israel they are referred to as clock-flower (שעונית). In Japan, they are known as clock plant (時計草 tokeisō). In North America they are also called the Maypop, the water lemon, and the wild apricot (after its fruit). Native Americans in the Tennessee area called it ocoee, and the Ocoee River and valley are named after it.

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 10th, 2008

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – NAMES OF FLOWERS, PRACTICE – Summer – 20minhaiku (one-a-day)

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sun flower, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Sun Flower, Bi-color Pro-Cut from Majestic Valley Farms on the
Tittmann property farmed by Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, Corrales,
NM, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

My mother is a simple woman.

She has thin lips, and for that reason she will put on lipstick if she’s going out. She hates her eyebrows, says they end too soon, at the midpoint. She actually went so far as to get tattooed eyebrows several years back.

When my sister brought Mom back from the tattoo shop, I was alarmed. It looked like someone took a Sharpie and cleanly marked a thick black line above each eye. I lied and told her they looked fine, that the tattoos were, in fact, a big improvement.

Fortunately, the tattoos soon faded into a more natural-looking gray, and so in the end, I wasn’t such a liar after all.

My mom loves the sun. Not in one of those sun-worshipper ways. She never sat outside on a plastic lawnchair until her skin turned orange-brown. But she does suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or so we suspect.

Even one overcast day and she becomes melancholy. She might read in bed or sit on the couch, occasionally looking out the window and wondering if the sun will make an appearance.

If you call her on one of our rare overcast days, she’ll say something like, “Ew, I just hate this weather.” She hates the wind, too. It makes her irritable.

  eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved   eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved   eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved   eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Mom’s favorite flower is the sunflower. Big dark center surrounded by bright yellow petals. Native to the Americas.

The sunflower plant grows tall, taller than my small mom. In the bud stage, the sunflower is heliotropic — at sunrise the faces of most sunflowers turn toward the east, and over the course of the day they move to track the sun.

This year Mom decided to plant sunflowers in their small patio-home yard. My parents have narrow flower beds in every available space, and in those beds they plant all types of perennials and annuals. They also grow spearmint for iced tea, rosemary for cooking, and three or four tomato plants. Mom’s favorite food very well might be a homegrown tomato sliced open, sprinkled with salt and pepper.

My parents made room for the large sunflower plants, bought seeds, and in May put the seeds into the soil. The plants started blooming this week. They are sweet. The blossoms are not many. Just a couple, not even enough to fill a vase. Still, they make my mom happy.

Someone, somewhere else grew more majestic sunflowers than Mom’s. A young organic farmer, passionate and hard-working, is cultivating an impressive farm — Majestic Valley Farms on the Tittmann property in Corrales, NM. Heart of the Rio Grande Valley. The farmer’s name is Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, and recently his Bi-Color, Pro-Cut sunflowers were ready to harvest. They came early in the week, days ahead of the weekly Corrales Growers Market.

Emails went out. Beautiful sunflower bouquets for sale, reasonably priced. Many people responded. I was one of them.

      bouquet, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved  bouquet, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Yesterday, at lunchtime, I called Mom from my cell phone.

“I’m in your driveway, and I have something for you.”

“What do you have?”

“Open the garage door and you’ll see.”

Dad let me in. “Wow,” he said, and he shuffled from the door back toward the living room. His arms have gotten thin.

It was overcast yesterday morning. Mom sat on the couch, near the window, like a heliotropic plant herself catching whatever light she could.

“Oh my God, those are beauuuutiful,” she exclaimed, laughing as she got up off the couch.

I set the vase on the fireplace hearth.

“No, no, put them here, where we can see them.” She cleared a more central spot.

     bouquet purple sky, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved  bouquet purple sky, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

The flowers fit Mom perfectly. I think we all have a flower that is just our own. Just like how certain colors complement our complexions, or how we feel kinship toward one animal or another. Mom is the sunflower; the sunflower is Mom.

Just today I remembered how in our dining room growing up there hung a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece Sunflowers. I hadn’t put two-and-two together until writing this post. Mom also adored a poster I bought years ago for my oldest daughter, Diego Rivera’s Girl with Sunflowers. It sometimes take years to realize deep in your heart that something is dear to someone you love.

By now Mom’s eyebrows are back to their original half-bald, cut-off-mid-way condition. I doubt she’ll get them tattooed again, although I bet she toys with the idea. I’d take her in if she wanted a touch up.

Hell, I’d be the first in line to take her in if she suddenly declared that she wanted a sunflower tattoo on her shoulder. She’d look gorgeous with one.

A-Not-Terribly-Authoritative List of Sunflowers in Art & Poetry

-Based on a Writing Practice done for the topic post WRITING TOPIC – NAMES OF FLOWERS.
-Related to posts PRACTICE – Sunflower and More Sunflowers.

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