A not so lovely blooming Monday.

1 Giant HOgweed

A not so lovely blooming Monday.

 

This astonishing plant stole my weekend. I discovered it in my garden and have spent most of the last two days getting rid of it. You might wonder why I would want to destroy it. This plant is sculptural in its beauty, almost architectural in its form, and surely a stunning addition to any garden.

Yes, it has a certain beauty about it and the prolific flowers offer pollen to all kinds of insects. Yet, I was compelled to do everything I could to try to take it out of the garden. The reason is, this is Heracleum Mantegazzianum, commonly known as Giant Hogweed.

The plant is highly toxic to humans and contact with it can cause horrific blistering and burns. In some cases the skin damage can be so bad people require hospital treatment. The results of burns from this plant can be long lasting photosensitivity to sunlight which can go on for years.  If any sap gets in the eyes it can cause temporary blindness, if the damage is bad, possibly permanent blindness. It is illegal to deliberately grow this in the UK. However, this plant does grow in the wild. It is usually eradicated when discovered because it is so dangerous to people who don’t recognise it.

I believe that the plant in my garden self set there. I certainly didn’t plant it. When I realised what it was, the plant stood at about three foot tall. Giant Hogweed can grow up to about fourteen foot. I believe all the growth has taken place this spring. To deal with this toxic plant I had to use my longest cutters so I could take it down section by section. I also had to wear gloves and I used an old welding mask I have in the garage to make sure the sap didn’t get in my eyes. I had to work quite slowly on this job because of how dangerous this plant can be. Most of it is down now but I have to deal with the root and make sure it hasn’t reproduced and set any young plants in the garden.

I hope the next lot of gardening I do will be more fun, less time consuming, and a whole lot safer than this weekend’s work. Do enjoy your garden if you have one, and I hope you don’t ever have to deal with something quite as difficult as Giant Hogweed.

 

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

A Blooming Lovely Monday. The Aster.

Welcome to another Blooming Lovely Monday.

As the year moves on my garden reflects the season’s changes. The bright colors of summer are fading fast now and being replaced by the autumnal hues of the turning leaves. However, in one or two places the flowers continue to blossom still. One of the plants that refuses to give up flowering quite yet is the Aster. I have several of these and they are still going strong.

Aster_novae-angliae_-_Raublattaster

Aster’s are part of the daisy family, but they are not quite the same as the tiny field daisies. Another name for aster flowers is Michaelemas Daisies as they flower through and beyond Michaelmas Day which is the 29th of September. This is a date had a huge significance in the countryside in the past as it was when the harvest should be completed, the animals not intended to over winter were selected for slaughter so the meat could be salted, and a goose well fattened by feeding on the corn stubble was eaten by those who could afford to have one.
This was an important day in the year as one of the four annual quarter days, where rents must be paid; servants might be paid or hired at this date too, hence the Goose Fairs and Mop Fairs held on this date.

Hang on, I know you asking, what about the Michaelmas Daisies? The above bit ties in you see, as these flowers are associated with Saint Michael, protector of light and defender from evil. When autumn days become noticeably shorter these flowers offer a lingering goodbye to the warmth of summer.

Of course Saint Michael is not the only association for this plant. The name Aster comes from the Greek word for “star,” and the star-like flowers bloom in white, red, pink, purple, lavender, and blue, with mostly yellow centers.

One legend tells that a field grew asters when Virgo scattered stardust to the earth. Another legend claims the goddess Astraea, whom Zeus had placed amongst the stars as the constellation Virgo, wept in the skies for the earth that had no stars of its own. It is said that asters bloomed where her tears fell. It seems quite fitting that the aster is the birthday flower for those born in September.

The aster represents love, daintiness, and charm as well as patience. In ancient times, it was believed the odor from an aster’s burning leaves could drive away evil serpents.
Medicinally asters have been used since ancient times for a great many ailments, the one that interests me most is the tincture as an asthma cure. This has been researched and seems to have some merit. If you want to read more about that look here.
http://bearmedicineherbals.com/aster.html

And finally in the past asters were used in the dying process to produce yellow though to dark green and gold depending on what process was used.

Whichever way you think about these bright blooms they are a lovely adornment to any garden.

Image attribution.

“Aster novae-angliae – Raublattaster” by Haeferl – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aster_novae-angliae_-_Raublattaster.jpg#/media/File:Aster_novae-angliae_-_Raublattaster.jpg

Blooming Lovely Monday. The Daisy.

Welcome to a Blooming Lovely Monday.

My flower today was going to be the Rose, but on researching roses it seems the net is awash with all kinds of information about them. I thought there might be another flower I could use instead, a humbler flower than the grand rose, and of course, I picked my namesake, the Daisy.

A botanical note, the daisy belongs to the group of vascular plants that make up 10% of the entire flowering plant life on earth. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are an ancient flower type and have grown for at least the last five thousand years.

Ancient Egyptians used the daisy motif for cosmetic tubes and jars. An archaeological dig in Crete searching for evidence of the Minoan culture discovered hair pins decorated with daisies. At Vindolanda in the north of England, where there is a fabulous museum dedicated to the Roman fort on the site, one exhibit is a leather shoe. It looks very like the toe post sandals I am wearing today, and on it sits a leather replica daisy. When I saw the shoe while I was on a visit there, the connection to the past was so strong. If the owner had been next to me I’d have asked her where she got her shoes.

The more I’ve found out about the daisy the more I like it. The flower’s name comes from the Old English words, daegeseage or day’s eye, because of the way the flowers closes its petals when the sun goes down. The daisy has also been known as bruise word or wound wort and these terms reveal the plant’s healing properties. The name Daisy has also been used as derivative for the name Margaret. This comes from the French word Marguerite, which means Daisy. In Latin the daisy is called Bellis Perennis, meaning “beautiful. During the romanticised Victorian era the name Daisy was very popular for girls, possibly chosen in the hope the child would be as sweet as the flower she was named for.

The flower symbolism associated with the daisy is purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience and simplicity. In flower lore the daisy is also a symbol of rebirth. In the Middle Ages daisies were used to decorate graves of the newly parted. Daisies are still being laid on graves today.

During the Middle Ages the daisy flower became strongly associated with the Virgin Mary and was known by the name “Mary’s Flower of God” perhaps because of it being a symbol of innocence. At this time prayer gardens dedicated to the Virgin Mary were built by some churches. These Mary Gardens as they were called, were places of peace where worshipers could pray surrounded by various flowers, each of which symbolised some element of the Virgin’s goodness. Among those blooms would be the daisy. The Virgin Mary was often depicted standing in a beautiful garden in the paintings made in this era. I’m not sure if the gardens were made because of the paintings or the paintings were made because of the gardens, either way round, a sweet scented garden where people can find peace sounds like a wonderful idea.

The Virgin Mary isn’t the only figure of worship the daisy is associated with; the Greek goddess Artemis, the Norse god Thor and the goddess Freya, all have links to the daisy.

In pagan lore the daisy is said to be one of the fairies flowers. Some people say that wearing a daisy in any form will bring you luck and hanging a bunch of daisies in the house will bring calmness when it is needed. Wreaths made of daisies placed under the pillow of a child will protect them from cramps so they sleep easily. You will know spring has arrived if you can step on twelve daisies with one footprint.

Daisy field

In the past young maidens strolling in the flowery meadows would close their eyes and grab a clump of daisies. They would count the number of flowers to see how long they would have to wait to marry, each flower symbolising a year.

It is said the daisy will show you if your love is true. He loves me, he loves me not, is a game young women have played for generations. I wonder how many girls have felt just like Jane Austin’s Emma Woodhouse if the result of their game was not to their liking.

“Dear Diary, Today I tried not to think about Mr. Knightly. I tried not to think about him when I discussed the menu with Cook… I tried not to think about him in the garden where I thrice plucked the petals off a daisy to ascertain his feelings for Harriet. I don’t think we should keep daisies in the garden, they really are a drab little flower. And I tried not to think about him when I went to bed, but something had to be done.”

Thankfully I expect the gardeners would have quietly allowed the daisies to continue to bloom where Miss Woodhouse could not see them because daisies are more than decorative.

The whole of the daisy plant has medicinal uses. It contains saponins and tannins, both very beneficial ingredients. The young flower petals can be eaten in salads, you can also add them to soups and stews. Dried daisy plants can be used for teas or to make a tonic for metabolic support, ease gout and help lung congestion, among other things.

The Roman surgeons who accompanied the legions as they battled their way across Europe would order their slaves to gather sacks full of daisies in order to extract the healing juice. Bandages were soaked in this liquid. They were used to bind sword and spear cuts after a battle.
In the 16th century John Gerard recommended the daisy for wounds as it had properties to reduce heat and swelling. He also recommended a daisy brew for chest complaints.
In the 17th century Culpepper’s Herbal references both wound washes and ointments made from daisies, as well as internal tonics.

The versatile daisy is still used in herbal remedies today.

Here is a link to tell you more about the chemical components found in daisies that you might find interesting. http://www.positivehealth.com/article/herbal-medicine/a-new-look-at-daisy-bellis-perennis

One last thought and a recollection; it is said the daisy brings peace and calm. I recall many happy hours as a child where I would sprawl on the grass and make daisy chains while I day dreamed. Those warm sunny days were very peaceful. Perhaps there is just enough left of summer here for one more daisy chain.

Daisy_chain

Do you have a memory of the daisy flower? Let me know if you do.

Image accreditation

Top Property of Daisy Banks.
Middle “Bllis perennis(01)”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Bottom”Dawn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daisy_chain.JPG#/media/File:Daisy_chain.JPG

A Blooming Lovely Monday. Fresia.

Flowers FresiaWelcome to another blooming lovely Monday. This is a short post as I could find no legend or lore associated with the exquisite friesa flower.

These fragrant small blooms were first identified about 200 years ago. They are native to southern Africa and are quite a challenge to grow in a garden. They were first cultivated in the UK in 1878 and caused a sensation when they were introduced to the pubic here.

Victorian sentimentality fell in love with the friesa. In the secret code of flowers the friesa was said to represent friendship and innocence. These bloom are a flower for the 7th wedding anniversary. They are sometimes used in bridal bouqets too. Some say this flower is suitable as a gift to someone who has performed well under pressure. I am certain their sweet scent would ease a stressed person.

Do let me know if you have managed to grow friesa flowers in your garden. I’d love some tips on how to get conditions right for them.

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

Image attribution "Fresia" by Angelynn - Own work. 
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fresia.jpg#/media/File:Fresia.jpg

A Bloming Lovely Monday. Lily of the Valley.

Lily of the valley

Welcome to a blooming lovely Monday. Today I am looking at Lily of the Valley and I had to include this beautiful flower in my posts here, as it is such an exquisite addition to any spring garden. I am lucky enough to have a host of these beauties and their fragrance is delightful. The flowers bloom in May and across Europe, they are popular spring blooms. One legend says the Nightingales won’t sing until the Lily of the Valley blooms. I would recommend planting them to everyone, but do keep them away from young children and your pets.

These tiny white bell-like flowers with their heady perfume have a hearty chunk of lore associated with them going as far back in time as to ancient Greece. It is said the god Apollo discovered them and offered them to the god Aesculapius for their healing properties. This association with healing is no mere myth. The plants are poisonous and if the berries are eaten, they can cause serious problems, even death.

In the past water distilled from the flowers was known as Aqua Aurea or ‘golden water’ and such was its power it had to be kept in golden or silver vessels. Much store was set in its healing properties. In the twentieth century, a drug with similar properties to digitalis was created from Lily of the Valley plants. It was used to treat soldiers injured in gas attacks in World War I.

Lily of the Valley is associated with humility, sweetness, chastity, and purity. The flowers are said to bring luck in love. There is also the idea it is not a good thing to bring them into the house. This is a recurring idea about many springtime blooms.

In Christian myth the flowers are said by some to have bloomed from Eve’s tears as she and Adam were cast out of heaven. Others say the flowers sprouted from Mary’s tears as she wept at the crucifixion.
These flowers are also linked to Saint Leonard, a hermit like warrior who lived in the Vienne Valley near Limoges in 559 AD. In an effort to become closer to God, St. Leonard went to live in the woods. Legend tells that a dragon with the mane of Temptation also lived in these woods. The dragon ordered St. Leonard to leave. The saint refused and a great battle ensued. Weeds sprouted where the dragon’s blood and Lily of the Valley appeared where the saint’s blood landed.

The pearly white flowers are also said to show the way to heaven as they form a step ladder up the stem of the flower. The flowers are also said to prompt visions of a better future.

Irish legends say the fairies use the Lily ladder to reach the reeds they need to weave cradles for their infants, or that the fairies use the flowers for cups. I do like that idea.

In the Victorian language of flowers, Lily of the Valley means ‘let’s make up’ or ‘a return to happiness. The sweet scented flowers are often used in bridal bouquets.

I’m rather sad the blooms in my garden are almost over but I will look forward to next Spring when I will hopefully see them again.

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

Image from “Convallaria majalis 0002” by H. Zell – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A Blooming Lovey Monday. Bleeding Hearts.

Welcome to a blooming lovely Monday.

Today’s flower, the Bleeding Heart, is one I love and I have a tiny clump of these in my garden. These graceful beauties thrive in shady spots and the loveliest example of them I’ve ever seen was with them bending toward a small pool. The stillness of the water reflected them with exquisite effect.

These flowers are part of the spring and by high summer their show is over and they become dormant until next year. You can propagate them from the parent plant by digging up the small infant plants that appear in the parent plant’s shadow. Replant these small ones and you will have more beautiful Bleeding Hearts next spring.

The Japanese legend associated with this flower is tragic as the flower’s name might suggest and references each part of the flower. It is said a young man tried to win the love of a young lady. He did this by giving her a range of gifts. The first was a pair of rabbits (the first two petals of the flower represent these), the next, a pair of slippers (which are the next two petals of the flower), and his last gift was a pair of earrings (shown by the last two petals of the flower). Sadly, his generosity proved fruitless and the girl continued to reject his affections. Heart-broken as she had spurned him, he pierced his heart with his sword (the middle part of the flower), which caused the bleeding heart. There is an addition to this first part of the legend that says when the girl realised she had lost him and the devotion he offered, she too, died. The bleeding heart flowers are said to have sprung from her grave in this version of the legend.

Bleeding Hearts were first introduced into the UK from Asia in the 1840’s and have remained a popular spring bloom ever since. They are said to be the symbol of eternal love and are sometimes included in bridal bouquets.

If you don’t have these blooms in your garden I recommend them as a beautiful addition to a spring garden.

Thanks for reading. Daisy Banks

Image shown under CC licence. Attribution Muffet at http://flickr.com/photos/53133240@N00/18512075

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A Blooming Lovely Monday. Forget-me-not.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Welcome and here is a bunch of beautiful forget-me-nots.
I love these small blue spring time blooms. Each one is like a winter dream come true. I have known them flower just after the snow has gone and in the shady spaces of a garden with the spring sun is strong. The vibrant shade of blue and the freshness of them are a true delight. The only thing I can say I like more among the spring time blues is Bluebells but more about them another time.

Flower lore for the Forget-me-not:
It is said forget-me-nots mean remembrance and can also signify true love. A Christian story about this flower says God once walked in the Garden of Eden, he was busy giving each flower a colour. He found a shy flower that whispered its name was forget-me-not. God said he would not forget the flower and even though he only had the barest scrap of blue left on his palette, he gifted it to the flower. The odd thing is forget-me-nots are shy flowers, preferring partial shade to full sun.

Another story about the flower is that a man and his sweetheart, who were walking beside the river, some say the Danube.
The couple saw and admired the beautiful blue flowers on an islet in the middle of the river. In an act of devotion and bravado the man leapt into the water to get the blue flowers for his love. The current was strong but he crossed the river and appearing triumphant to his lady, he bent and got the flowers. However, on his trip back he became caught in the power of the rapids, despite his best efforts he was swept away. In a last act of desperation his love should have the gift he’d gained for her he threw the bouquet of forget-me-nots to her and shouted “forget-me-not.” It is said the poor girl he wore the small blue flowers in her hair until the day she died and never forgot about him.

I like this next story better because it’s not so sad and full of mystery.
A long time ague a traveller crossed the mountains. At the foot of a tall, snow topped mountain, he discovered a flower he had never seen before. Intrigued by the brilliant colour he picked the flower up and found it had a soft fresh fragrance he enjoyed. The foot of the mountain opened up into a cavern full of treasures. In his surprise, he dropped the flower which said “Forget-me-not.” The mountain closed and the treasure was lost.
I like to think the treasure might one day be found.

I’ve a load of forget-me-nots in my garden today. They are busily flowering and providing colour now the daffodils have faded and the tulips have shed. Bright brilliant blue these shy little blossoms deserve a place anywhere you might want to honour the thought of remembrance of love.

Thanks for reading

Daisy Banks

A blooming lovely holiday Monday. The Hyacinth.

hyacinthWelcome to this holiday Monday post. Astonishing as it might seem after I said last week I had no pink flowers in my spring garden, this week I discovered one single fragrant hyacinth among the other flowers. It is pink, just like these in the image.

I think hyacinths are very beautiful and their scent is divine. Of course, with the legend of the hyacinth the beautiful fragrance shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I’m sure some of you know this tragic tale but if you don’t here are the bare bones.

ApolloThis is an image of the mighty Apollo, god of the Sun, light, music, law, truth and prophecy, healing, poetry, archery and more. Apollo is often portrayed as a young or youthful man with long hair and beautiful features. He appears in many legends and some of them don’t have happy endings for the mortals involved. Such is the case here.

Apollo fell in love with an exquisite youth, a Spartan prince named Hyacinth. This athletic and handsome young man was also admired by Zephyrus, god of the west wind.

A rivalry for Hyacinth’s affections arose between the two gods, and despite Apollo’s great power Zephyrus wouldn’t give up his attempts to charm the young man. Hyacinth made a decision and selected Apollo as his companion.

One day Hyacinth and Apollo were together practising throwing the discus. Apollo was trying to impress the youth and threw hard. The young man chased the discus. Jealous Zephyrus took the chance to blow it off course and the discus hit Hyacinth’s head.

The youth fell to the floor. His blood pooled on the ground and the young man died. Apollo in his grief for his loss made a beautiful and fragrant flower to remind the world of the loveliness of Hyacinth.

Such a tragic love story and a beautiful flower. I think hyacinths are a perfect addition to any Spring garden and am so pleased I have, at the moment, one of these delightful blooms.

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

A blooming lovely Monday. The Camelia.

Camelia

At present my garden if blooming in the fine spring weather. The daffodils are golden and the tulips I inherited when I moved here have opened into glorious red blooms. The one colour I don’t have much of so far is pink. I also don’t have one of the most exquisite of all spring time plants, the Camellia. I will add one of these beautiful plants to the garden as I love them so much. Camellia’s come in a wide range of colours but I am a true sucker for the pink ones such as this one above.

For this blog I have done a little research into the lore of the camellia which is a native of the Far East where it blooms wild.

In China this plant is associated with pure love. The petals are said to reflect the spirit of a lady, while the calyx, the part that holds the petals, is said to represent a young man entrusted to be her protector. I think this is a lovely idea.
When the bloom finishes and the petals fall the calyx falls too, which is unusual. To the Chinese this symbolizes an eternal union between lovers. It doesn’t get much more romantic than that.

The camellia was introduced to the UK in the 18th century along with many other oriental blooms and it has remained popular since. In Victorian times, probably the high note of the language of flowers the camellia was associated with passion and love. Wearing one was said to help you find you perfect romantic partner, giving a bouquet of these flowers showed your affection for that person. The different shades of the flower had different meanings, pink = longing, red=the recipient sets your heart aflame, white=the recipient is adorable

I hope your garden is showing off its spring time colours, too. Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

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