Friday, April 27, 2007

The Vagabonds

Is there anything as peaceful as a morning walk in Spring mist? With Wind a breathy whisper and the quiet only punctuated with the sound of bird's trills? I hear the underlying sounds then...the sounds that are usually muted by the roar of Spring machinery.

I hear the swish of water from car tires, passing by the house. I hear the distant surf, and seagulls calling. And if I focus my senses on my hearing, I hear a roar and there, in the underlying hum, I note vibrations of sound coming from Earth. The sounds of sucking mud, the drip off the eaves, the crinkle of a dry branch underfoot, the whisper of the worms...

And so it was this morning, as I ventured outside. The weather has been rainy and cold and sunny and warm lately, in fact, it has been Spring weather. I was dressed warmly, took my Camera, with some trepidation. I am still used to coddling my old Camera, Camera No. 1.

But Camera No. 2 performed admirably, as I ambled along, listening to the songs of the plants.

It is time to deadhead...a horrible term, for a peaceful Gardener. But it is what it is, and the Daffodils and Tulips look naked without their frill of overblown petals surrounding their hearts. And there is another show to look forward to next year, as these Daffodils and Tulips store food from their leaves in their bulbs for the rest of the year, producing once again next Spring.

I love the cycles of the garden...the complete circles.

I came upon Lady's Mantle, one of my favourite self-seeders. She is strong and adaptable, showing off chartreuse, airy flowers all summer long. I have a picture of her flowering exuberance somewhere, but couldn't find it. This photo is of her just getting started...leaves are still small and tender, just right to enhance my salads, with her slightly bitter taste.

If I were to collect the water, be they Raindrops or Dew, that settle on the leaves, I would join a long line of Women doing the same from times gone by...

Lady's Mantle was considered a Woman's protector, she was given the nickname 'a Woman's best friend'. She was used to regulate the menstrual cycle and to ease the effects of menopause. She was useful, as well, in reducing inflammation of the female organs. Since the 18th century, her large leaves have been applied to women's breasts, to recover their shape after breast- feeding.

And the magical properties! It is said that if a Woman were to collect the Water droplets on the Lady's leaves, in May, on a full Moon night, naked and with bare feet, showing her purity and ability to ward of opposing forces, she would preserve her youth.

My youth has been left behind. But I wonder if the collected droplets of dew would do well on eBay. And off I go, fantasizing about the wonderful possibilities for Lady's Mantle Water...

The Lady's children are vagabonds, taking long trips away from the Lady's settled home, to try out different parts of the garden, hopscotching here and there, carefree and putting down roots wherever they find a hospitable patch of ground. I don't mind these baby Ladies, I try to keep things manageable, but they do look lovely! and these volunteers are so very indepen- dent.

On this misty morning, the salad garden looks crisp and luscious. We have been enjoying Sorrel for a month...another amazing plant.

She has blood cleansing and blood improving qualities, similar to spinach...which improves haemoglobin content, along with Vitamin C. Granny G would feed everybody Sorrel Soup in the early Spring, when she had great quantities of this strong warrior.

This was one potion of Granny's at which we didn't turn our noses up. The soup had a lemony, very tart taste, which bit into your taste buds with a punch. There were bits of ham and potato and lots of parsley and was one of her Spring Tonics.

I use her sparingly, much as I would any other Herb, fresh, added to salads and stir-fries alike. She is high in oxalic acid, and a little goes a long way. Sorrel can also, in large quantities, cause problems for arthritic people, of which I'm one. But in the Spring, she helps me cleanse Gray's and my blood; her fresh taste, beginning in early February, a prelude to the dance of Spring yet to arrive.

Sorrel's children, too, are vagabonds. She also has inconspicuous, yellowy-green flowers. But she has fooled me once, and I let her go to seed...the rest is history. But her seeds take a long time to grow to an appreciable size...she is best propagated through division. Her children, too, are a little tougher to remove than the precious Lady's offspring.

But Roman soldiers used to suck on Sorrel's leaves to relieve thirst; Henry VIII loved her, with the Tudors considering the herb one of England's best vegetables. Roman doctors used her as a diuretic. It strikes me that the use of an herb as a thirst reliever and as a diuretic is a little odd, but I remember as a child sucking on Sorrel, relishing her tartness. But I can't remember the result.

Lady's Mantle and Sorrel...the women's protector and the warrior helper...two plants that have taken up residence in my garden that love to wander. If their roots and leaves find the nutrients they require, they do well. If they don't find the habitat to their liking, they will still hang on and on, trying to replicate a former hospitable corner. Trying to find home.

Volunteers such as these are the backbone of my garden...I know when self-seeders have found a place to be that I have a choice to move them or enjoy them where they are. I rarely consign these two to the compost...I would rather pot them up and give them away.

Something these two plants allow me to do with regularity.


  1. Wow, great info. AND you have painted a nice picture of the one thing I miss from living on the coast,mist and salt air.

  2. Anonymous4:43 p.m.

    How exactly did they gather up the water, I wonder - with a sponge and a bucket? I've only really got into gardening in recent years, so my knowledge is limited but I love it. I do flowers rather than herbs so far though - though I do have rosemary. I also have those pink flowers in your first photo, which I'm proud to have remembered are bergenia cordifolia. I planted two along the north-facing edge of the garden, both apparently identical at the time, but one has flourished and the other is stunted, producing only one flower per year. I still let it do its thing, though. I also have one which produces white flowers: 'silver light' I think it's called, and that's grown the largest of all.

    I'm not sure how much of the garden we'll enjoy this summer, as we're hoping to move. Our nephew was aghast that I should have gone to all the trouble of developing the garden the last few years only to leave it behind - but I'm looking forward to doing the next one!

  3. A lovely green and growing post. I always enjoy reading here.

  4. Wonderful pictures with useful information.Best wishes and thanks for your continuous support.

  5. Sank, I can't imagine living anywhere but by the sea...the Air is bracing and clean and there is always a breeze off the Water. It is different for me to garden so close to Ocean, however.The colours of the flowers seem much brighter than further inland, and need less water. The salt Air really works its magic!

    Way to go, Simon...indeed it is a Bergenia Cordifolia.I haven't seen the white flower variety, but it sounds beautiful. I'm sorry the other is stunted; perhaps it is just taking a little longer to get orientated to its spot. One of my Bergenia's sat there, with little movement, for a couple of years, looking sad. And then, finally, the following year, it looked like a totally different plant, just shot up and grew!

    I do hope everything goes well with your move; I read your post. And sometimes, gardening just gets more interesting and fun the more experience you gather. What didn't work for me in the last garden I might have done doesn't require consideration this time around!

  6. Thank you, are always welcome!

    Surjit, your posts are so creative! Thank you for visiting!

  7. I was checking in on you, Marion, to see how your Pollock is coming. 8-) I think it could do wonders for karma if you play along. And I'm not talking about My Name Is Earl!!

    And he laughed and laughed...

  8. Anonymous3:01 p.m.

    My grandmother used to do the most amazing things in the spring with herbs she grew. I never paid attention to what she used to make her tonics.

    Opportunities lost.

  9. Anonymous10:33 p.m.

    Your joy and connection with nature shines forth in your writing. A real treat to read, takes me right back to a real connection with the earth.

  10. Wonderful insight in to life of your friends. Your photos, again, tell us a story. You have a quality about you that makes feel comfortable, informed and nourished.
    Thank Yoi

  11. Kilroy, lol! I have tried and tried to get a picture of the #%$^@ thing for the last week, and now have to give in and did everybody else manage to put a picture of their painting on their blog?

    I had an excellent one I did, that honestly looked exactly like you! It was great! But I lost it...

  12. Jan, that's so sad. But if the interest in it is still in your blood, there are many plants in everybody's backyard that can be used for tonics. Identify them, and look them will be amazed at how many of them target some area of your well-being!

    Opportunities lost...and found again, lol!

  13. Thank you, Artist, I know you have a deep connection with Earth as well, I read all your blogs, and this is high praise, indeed!

    Dave, I thank you! Your peaceful energy shines through, every time you visit!

  14. Great post, very well written and informative as always Marion. I almost felt I was there in the garden with you.

    On another note Marion, I have had a few e-mails re. how to play the Jackson Pollock tag game so have done a post about it. Here's the link:-

    Have fun!

  15. Your ability to commune with plants is evident. I have only met a few people like this. I loved the gentle sounds of nature in this posting and enjoyed meeting, Lady's Mantle.

  16. Thanks for all the info.

    We are in the middle of Autumn with leaves all over the place so it is wonderful seeing the lovely Spring garden photos with everything so fresh and green.

  17. Thank you, Naomi, I plan on using your post for guidelines on placing the Jackson Pollock on my site next week, hopefully. Well done!

    Princess, thank really is not so hard when you get the hang of it!

    Jackie, we haven't had summer yet, here...there is a time during the year when I feel ready for autumn, but it is definitely not yet! Even as I look out the window now, I see hail falling...It's been such bad weather for what seems forever!

  18. Your photographs and descriptions are lovely!

  19. That is quite the truss they are lifting into place there for your neighnbor! What did you rub into the dogs' heads? I would like to know because my dogs do the same thing when hearing shots or sharp noises. (I hate guns but have a fellow down the road who repairs Winchesters and likes to test-fire them on occasion.) Follow me around like I was popular.
    Nice pictures, I like them.

  20. Miss T, thank's finally summer outside, suddenly, and the garden is perking up!

    Goatman, lol! Dogs aren't are very popular with them when their world is punctuated by the pop of guns or construction equipment and they're so frightened.

    Rescue Remedy is made by Bach; it is available in any Health Food Store or Pharmacy here in Canada. It is great for anxiety in people and animals both, and is a preparation made from a different mix of florals. Two drops on the back of the dogs heads and rubbed in is usually enough for my dogs.

    I used to place it in their drinking water; when they are upset, they won't drink, so I tried the drops on their skin. I think it works better than in water.