Back to stories from the Art Garden Shed… For this is mainly a garden diary… This year I decided to try some lupine from American Meadows as a “bulb topper”. I have been always smitten with the flowers of the pea family (Fabaceae) and lately I found that they are great heavy metal bioaccumulators, (sadly, there is still plenty of lead and chromium in JC, floating in the air in fine particles, contaminating urban soils slowly but surely…)
These make great cut flowers, too…
I also want to try some sweet pea, they are my favorite – I strongly favor fragrant flowers…
This year’s moody spring delayed the blooming of the lovely dandelions. My Conservation Biology professor at MSU mentioned them fondly last week, and in the recent days, a few bunches bloomed in my yard.
Their gifts and uses are manifold, being that they are an important natural remedy. For instance, dandelion jelly is one of the healthiest sweet spreads you could eat. Since I try to avoid added sugar in my diet, I am considering making a dandelion flower preserve with concentrated fruit juice and chia seeds. However, the whole aerial parts of the dandelion are edible and can be added in salads (the leaves only when they're young, preferably before the plant blooms) and dry the roots for a great detoxifying tea. Here's a remedy for balancing your liver function: eat six dandelion stalks a day (you can cut them and add them to your sandwich if you want) for a few weeks. Be careful where you pick them, though. Avoid those that grow close to a high traffic area, and always wash them thoroughly.
Dandelion’s “flower” is actually an inflorescence. The true flowers are the “petals” that can be pulled off the inflorescence, and which are in fact a long, flat, merged corolla.
Dandelion is a melliferous species, being one of the first foods for pollinators, especially bees.
Their white “seed globes” are whimsical, and kids of all ages love puffing them away.
Speaking of their change from yellow to white, when I was a little girl, I read an enchanting Native-American dandelion legend, in a book that both my brother and I loved dearly:The Story of Hiawatha.
“How the wild rose and the shy arbutus and the lily, sweet and languid, loved the idle Shawondasee! How the frost-weary and withered earth would melt and mellow at his sunny touch! Happy Shawondasee! In all his life he had a single sorrow—just one sleepy little sting of pain. He had seen a maiden clad in purest green, with hair asyellow as the bright breast of the oriole, and she stood and nodded at him from the prairie toward the north. But Shawondasee, although he loved the bright-haired maiden and longed for her until he filled the air with sighs of tenderness, was so lazy and listless that he never sought to win her love. Never did he rouse himself and tell her of his passion, but he stayed far to the southward, and murmured half asleep among the palm-trees as he dreamed of the bright maiden.
One morning, when he awoke and gazed as usual toward the north, he saw that the beautiful golden hair of the maiden had become as white as snow, and Shawondasee cried out in his sorrow: "Ah, my brother of the North-wind, you have robbed me of my treasure! You have stolen the bright-haired maiden, and have wooed her with your stories of the Northland!" and Shawondasee wandered through the air, sighing with passion until, lo and behold! the maiden disappeared.
Foolish Shawondasee! It was no maiden that you longed for. It was the prairie dandelion, and you puffed her away forever with your useless sighing.”
I have been fascinated with black storks ever since I learned about their existence. Although they have the same feeding grounds with their white cousins, unlike these ones they live far from human habitations, preferring to nest in the canopies of the oldest forests they can find. If the white stork is the symbol of new life, social interaction and material achievements, I would think the black one is the symbol of seasoned life, solitary pursuits, “ivory towers” and creations of the spirit.
May you be blessed with the gifts of both.
“Black Stork”, Prismacolor pencils on upcycled paper, 2’’x 4’’
There is an ongoing art postcard swap with this theme at Hewn Arts Center, 140 Sip Ave, Jersey City, venue managed by Journal Square’s own Ed Ramirez. Next event will be on JC Fridays, December 6. Bring your creations (any bidimensional art medium will do, as long as it fits the theme and size) and let’s swap!
There is an Old World saying that the tailor wears torn pants and the shoemaker walks barefoot. Lately I seem to be the botanist with unknown flowers growing in my garden (being that I am on a different continent than the one on which I learned botany, which excuse might not hold water for too long). The strange beauties in the pictures below have bloomed in my backyard this fall, either from a wildflower mix I have sown or spontaneously, (like my mulberry tree) and I have never seen anything like that before. It’s like several showy but wild Gerbera grafted on a sunflower stalk. I have a hunch that they might be some tall grass prairie Sylphium (compass plant), and if they are, I am even more smitten by them than after I read Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. If anybody reading this can do a proper ID before I get my hands on my unopened copy of Botany for Gardeners, please go ahead.