March 6, 2011
Gone to Pot - Spring 2011
I wander lonely as a cloud as I float up the garden in March surrounded in the garden and on the Beck by a host of golden daffodils. Not only are they golden, but tinged pink, orange, white, doubles, tete a tete, miniature, blowsy and all fluttering and dancing in the breeze. I just hope it will be a breeze and not a full blown tempest as we experienced earlier this year.
There is a legend which says that the daffodil or Lent Lily was white, but Persephone, who had wreathed her head with them and fallen asleep in the meadow, was captured by Pluto and carried off in his chariot. She let fall some of the lilies and they turned to a golden yellow. Why this should have happened is a complete mystery. And why should the Welsh adopt the daffodil as a twentieth century alternative to the leek is beyond me. I am sure there must be someone out there who can enlighten me!
In England during the sixteenth century, it was called "affodil" and later daffidowndilly - the origin of this could be from the Dutch de affodil, 'the asphodel' so called by Theophilus and Pliny.
There have been carpets of snowdrops this year - how bravely they have pushed their way through all that inhospitable snow and inclement weather conditions to produce such an over-abundance. Once they have finished flowering it is a good way to establish them elsewhere in the garden by replanting them "in the green".
Violets are another powerful token of spring and what a fabulous perfume! Symbolising modesty and tranquillity and the guardian of sleep, they were fabled by the ancients to have sprung from the blood of Ajax. They are also very useful to crystallise, along with primroses, as decorations for Easter and Mothering Sunday cakes. A popular choice when making a posy for Mothering Sunday, giving rise to "Go a-mothering and find violets in the lane".
We should soon be experiencing a wonderfully colourful and fragrant display of Hyacinths, with their breathtaking perfume.According to Greek fable, Hyacinth was the son of Amyclas, a Spartan king. The boy was beloved of Apollo and Zephyr but as he preferred the sun god, Zephyr drove Apollo's quoit at his head and killed him. The blood became a flower and the petals were inscribed with the signature AI meaning woe. Greek myths and legends are fascinating but when they describe the origin of a flower it is nearly always dependent upon the grizzly death of someone. Considering flowers are so beautiful it does seem to be a shame that they have such an unprepossessing start in life.
Never a month goes by without a job or five to be done in the garden and the work load seems to be accelerating to Grand Prix standards. Weather permitting, we should be able to mow the lawn with the mower on a high setting, assuming the ground has dried out sufficiently. The blades of the mower should be sufficiently sharp to slice a sheet of paper. A dear friend of mine once lost a finger on the blade of her mower.
Let's hope we can grab a minute or two in the sun with a cup of coffee or tea and reflect on the marvels of nature.