"Go to a poor man's garden and ask him my name—he'll tell you it is Heartsease; and where will you find a better than that? And why am I called so? Because it's my character—wherever I go, there I flourish. If the gardener seeds me, pots me, and pets me, I come out all velvet and gold, like yonder beauties. If the wind carries my seed to a wall-top or a rubbish heap, I do my best and come out in the same colours, though not so rich and bright. I rejoice alike in sunshine and shower; neither drought nor rains will destroy me. I may hang my head now and then, but I always come up again. No lot is perfect; but that is the nearest to it which has heartsease to sweeten it."
Another blizzard dumped about 15 inches of snow on us yesterday. We simply don't have any more room to put the stuff! I think this is the most snow we've seen since we've lived here, and it seems like I've been saying that every year now! 😃 We were just a tenth of an inch away from tying the record for snowfall in a single month in January. The record was 59.9, and we got 59.8! So far I think we have had around 125 inches this winter. And March is often the snowiest month!
View of our house from the road...
There is a building behind there somewhere!
It's a good thing I like to climb! But climbing this with trays of baby plants is going to be a challenge!
My poor greenhouse has really taken a beating the last few winters. I'm really amazed that it is still standing. Another PVC pipe snapped in some high winds we had the other day. I'm hoping I can get it fixed to last the rest of the winter!
The narrow path down the porch stairs. A few of the steps have gone completely missing!
And now I need to go dig out the mailbox! 😁
The scary thing is that all this has to melt! I'm hoping and praying spring will start early and slowly this year.
I suppose everyone loves chocolate. Actually I'm not overly fond of it by itself although I love it with nuts or peanut butter. But chocolate flowers are the best yet! Enjoy! 😊
Oh happy day!! The first flower on my 'Chocolate' morning glories (Ipomoea nil) has just opened!! Watching these plants grow has really brightened my winter! Here they are in late November, just after I transplanted the four of them out of their paper cups into one large pot (ideally it should have been larger, but it worked)!
By mid-December they had started to climb, so I made them a little trellis with some straight branches and wire...
It is truly marvelous how these plants grow! This time lapse video (not mine) shows how they circle round and round until they find something to grasp...just one of the many wonders of the plant world that make me admire the wisdom of their Creator! 😊
Yikes!!! I really have to watch these darling pussies around my favorite plants!! 😁
By the end of January they had climbed to the top of the trellis and were preparing to take over the world! A simple solution...gently tuck the growing ends back down at the bottom and let them start over!
And the countdown begins!! Jan. 24th...
And finally...Feb.8th! I have been pacing around for almost 3 hours this morning, waiting for it to get light enough to take pictures! 😃
It is a huge flower! You can click any of these pictures to enlarge...
I'm so delighted with my new flower! And it has been so easy to grow, and such a joy to watch! All I can say is, try it and see! 😊
I don't have the right pictures to illustrate this poem, but it has really touched my heart and I just had to share it. Nothing that is truly beautiful is useless or will ever be lost!
Why art thou thus in thy beauty cast,
"I asked the flowers in the soft spring-time,
When the stormy days so soon should come
And the sweet flowers answered, 'Each day renews
'Why should we not smile? Till now we have thriven,
“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”
It has been a while since I gave an update on my little winter window garden. The highlight of the winter has been watching the growth of my Japanese morning glory plants! Ipomoea nil won't bloom outdoors for me because of the short season. I had pretty much accepted the fact that I would never get to see one of these beautiful flowers in person, at least so long as I lived in Maine! But then someone told me that they could be grown inside, so I decided to try it. I had just 4 Ipomoea nil 'Chocolate' seeds left from the packet I'd bought when I tried to grow them in my garden. All 4 of them germinated and have been brightening my snowy days ever since! 😁
These plants are sensitive to day length, so the short days of winter only make them bloom more quickly! I was actually planning to wait a while longer and then surprise everybody with a big beautiful flower, but I can't keep a secret that long. 😊 So, here are a couple of the most promising buds!
Also, a friend recently sent me seeds for over 20 different kinds of rare Japanese morning glories! I don't have the space to grow them all at once (much as I'd like to!) but I have 3 seedlings each of 'Purple Reverse Tube', which will also have beautiful lime green leaves...
And 'Sazanami', which has huge, purple/pink and white speckled blooms!. I love the pinkish coloring on these seedlings too!
In the meantime, one of my Heartsease plants has opened its first flower, just in time to hold me over! Today, as I look out on the falling snow, this little one brings to mind these lines from Emily Dickinson...
"I'm the little 'Heart's-Ease'!
There is nothing like having a few little plants growing on a windowsill during the winter months. The bitter cold and barrenness outside only makes them all the more precious! 😊
My father and I made two trips into Canada this past week. I always enjoy the drive through the Renous highway wilderness although it was a little treacherous during both our trips this time due to blowing snow and ice from the rain we had a few days ago.
The St. John river still has lots of ice chunks from the thaw we had last month. This picture was just taken as we were driving across the bridge and doesn't do it justice. Some of those ice chunks are huge!
Looking out across the frozen bay in Baie-Sainte-Anne, NB. What looks like fog is actually just blowing snow!
Ice covered Tansy by the bay...
I was both surprised and thrilled to see that the ocean was also frozen for as far as we could see! It was almost like being in the arctic! It certainly had changed a lot since the last time we saw it back in November.
And finally, a home scene! We had a bit of a thaw on Thursday with an inch of rain. All the snow came sliding off the back roof, taking the internet wire down with it! There are power lines there too but they were OK, thankfully!
Hope everyone is staying warm! I have felt some warmth from the sun the last few days, so there is hope!! 😊
God might have made the earth bring forth
The ore within the mountain mine
The clouds might give abundant rain,
Then, wherefore, wherefore are they made,
Springing in valleys green and low,
Our outward life requires them not,
To comfort man, to whisper hope
"When little Elves have cut themselves,
Have you ever come across a plant whose identity was entirely unknown to you, and instinctively felt that it must have an interesting past? It has happened to me often, but the first plant that comes to mind is the beautiful Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris). It may come as a surprise to some of you that I only made the acquaintance of this plant last summer, since to many it is a pesky lawn weed. It doesn't grow in our yard, however, and the first time I came across it was on a hot summer day's walk in the woods. I was struck by its unusual appearance and beauty and felt sure that I was not the first who had been so impressed, and that perhaps some great usefulness had been attributed to it by our ancestors. Of course, all that was confirmed when I learned its name! It was in fact considered almost a cure-all, and an old French proverb claims that no man will need a physician if he has this plant. Culpeper writes thus in his English Physician: "Self-Heal, whereby when you are hurt, you may heal yourself". Gerard praises its virtues highly, claiming that "there is not a better Wound herbe in the world than that of Selfe-Heale is". He also recommends it as a remedy for headaches: "Prunell bruised with oile of rose and vineger, and laid to the forepart of the head, swageth and helpeth the pain and aking thereof". I may try that one on myself sometime! It is still used by some modern herbalists and is believed to have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. In A Modern Herbal, Mrs. Grieve writes: "An infusion of the herb, made from 1 oz. to a pint of boiling water, and taken in doses of a wineglassful, is considered a general strengthener. Sweetened with honey, it is good for a sore and relaxed throat or ulcerated mouth, for both of which purposes it also makes a good gargle. For internal bleeding and for piles, the infusion is also used as an injection".
The genus name, Prunella, is actually a corruption of the German Brunella, or Brunellen, a name derived from its use to treat an inflammation of the throat and mouth which in German was called de Braune. James Britten's Dictionary of English Plant Names (1886) lists well over a dozen common names for this plant. Many of them are suggestive of its medicinal uses, such as Carpenter's Herb, Hook-Heal, Slough-Heal, and Touch-and-Heal. Another interesting name is Heart-of-the-Earth, "because it chiefly occurs in thin poor soils, where the farmer gives it the credit of eating away all the substance of the soil. It was apparently a somewhat troublesome weed in cornfields, from which it gets yet another name, Pick Pocket, although this name was a general one applied to several different plants that were considered troublesome. It has a few prettier names as well, such as Blue Curls, Bumble Bees, and London Bottles.
Prunella vulgaris is a member of the mint family (Labiatae), native throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. It is interesting that several English writers claim that it was "one of those common wildflowers that have found their way to North America, tending even to oust the native flowers". Yet, according to all the modern sources I have seen (including the USDA) it is actually native here, and, at least in my area it seems to be quite unobtrusive.
I think the little Self-Heal is remarkably pretty, and many others have been of the same opinion. So, I was rather shocked yesterday when I read what the Victorian art critic, John Ruskin, had to say about it. Speaking of the mint family in general, while he does praise their usefulness and fragrances, he yet says that "there is scarcely a blossom of them which is not more or less grotesque, even to ugliness", and even goes so far as to suggest that they are distorted by some evil influence: "...it is not the normal character of a flower petal to have a cluster of bristles growing out of the middle of it, nor to be jagged at the edge into the likeness of a fanged fish's jaw, nor to be swollen or pouted into the likeness of a diseased gland in an animal's throat. A really uncorrupted flower suggests none but delightful images, and is like nothing but itself". Truly a strange theory! Yet even he admits that the Self-Heal was "a flower very dear and precious to me", and "the only flower left to be loved among the grass" after the early summer flowers had faded. He writes that "the most glowing violets could not be lovelier than each fine purple gleam of its hooded blossoms". But here his praises end and he complains, "But their flush is broken and oppressed by the dark calyces out of which they spring, and their utmost power in the field is only of a saddened amethystine lustre, subdued with furry brown. And what is worst in the victory of of the darker colour is the disorder of the scattered blossoms; - of all the flowers I know, this is the strangest, in the way that here and there, only in their cluster its bells rise or remain, and it always looks as if half of them had been shaken off, and the top of the cluster broken short away altogether". Looking yet closer (through a magnifying glass) he goes so far as to say that the form of the flowers is "grotesque beyond all wonder"! Well, Mr. Ruskin's ideas seem to be quite unlike any others I have come across, fortunately!
In my opinion it is lovely enough even for the flower garden, and surely a plant which has been so useful for centuries is under no "malefic influence"! The whole plant is quite interesting even in winter, "when the heads of dry calyces stand up like little brown turrets", and have given me much pleasure during my late fall rambles (before they were completely buried!).
I would be delighted to learn what others think of this little flower! Do you consider it a weed or a wildflower? Have you ever used it medicinally?
I am linking with Clay and Limestone today for Wildflower Wednesday!
I am a passionate gardener and seed-saver, who also enjoys playing the violin and accordion, running, spending time with my 4 golden retrievers, keeping chickens, photography, and reading.