…and the first fly invaded our house today. The outside temperatures hit an unseasonal 70, and since we keep the thermostat set so low in order to save on fuel that we have to wear coats in the house, we opened windows and doors – and in came the only bugs probably within a mile radius. Still, after a long, cold winter, I couldn’t begrudge their presence too much. March gave us three more snowy days, and went out more like a lion than a lamb like it’s supposed to. We were even treated to an April Fool’s Day snow! The flakes were so large, some 2 inches across, that we could aim to catch them on our tongues as they floated down. It snowed most of the morning, looking like confetti in the air and settling on the bright green spring grass, making a lovely contrast. But hopefully, now, we are done with winter.
The Lenten Rose bloomed in time to fulfill its name, because of how late Easter is this year. The purple shade is quite liturgical, in keeping with the vestments worn during this period of penance and personal reflection. Its bowed heads seem fitting to the season as well. So many of the popular names of our traditional European flowers have religious themes, or are named after religious feasts, as their common names often were developed during the glorious Middle Ages. Glorious? Yes. Don’t believe the text books. There is more war and pestilence and filth today than there was during those times, and there were also great strides made in industry and science. Certainly not as much as today, but without the discoveries of the Middle Ages, we would not be as advanced as we are. We can thank monasteries for further developing the study of plants for medicinal purposes, and for improving farming methods, and even for the development of champagne by a French monk named Dom Perignon. Many monasteries had systems of water power that ran large industrial machines and provided running water in the kitchens and lavatories. All this learning they taught the local people, improving the lives of many, and teaching their children, both boys and girls, the three R’s, free of charge. This is why many towns in Europe are named after monasteries and convents, because the people settled around them. And it is from this culture that we get many of the common names of plants. St. John’s Wort blooms around the time of the feast of St. John the Baptist. Rose of Sharon, Jacob’s Ladder, and Star of Bethlehem take their names from the Bible. And the number of plants named for Our Lady are almost innumberable: rosemary, marigold, lady’s slipper, our lady’s bedstraw, lady’s mantle, Madonna lily, maidenhair fern… and on and on. Someday I hope to create a Mary Garden with all plants of Biblical or religious reference, as a place of meditation and peace. Maybe if this year we make a profit on our little flower business I can begin! Seed planting has begun in earnest, and little baby plants are popping up under the growlights in the basement and finding their way onto window sills…
Welcome to Growing Goodness! This website is dedicated to growing good things, both plants and children. It's a gardening blog with maternal overtones, as I discuss the goodness and value of plants, both wild and domestic. In the process I hope to help you pass a love of nature on to your children. Happy Gardening!