Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From the (presumed) judgement of Paris to a Gardener's Wisdom. . .

If you read the comments on my last post, you'll have noticed one from my lovely neighbour, Jane, welcoming us home and assuring me that she really doesn't care how I'm dressed. Besides being a talented and knowledgeable gardener, Jane writes beautifully, and should you visit her blog, you'll get glimpses of her wisdom, which is deep and generous, humourous and gentle, and, above all, nurturing. Jane was into boyfriend jeans long before anyone thought of those as stylish, and she's also got the jump on anyone who's touting plaid as the season's latest: She's usually dressed in old plaid shirts and comfortable, loosely-fitting jeans, often borrowed from her partner's hand-me-downs, I suspect, and I don't think she bothers going much up-market from Mark's Work Wearhouse. She ties her thick white-grey curls back in a pony-tail or sometimes a simple braid down her back, and she could not be more gorgeous! She's learned lessons about beauty, I suspect, from all her time in gardens, and she couldn't give a decayed maple leaf for the opinions of Paris on what should or shouldn't be worn. I gain much strength from living on an island that turns away from fashion -- and even fashion's more sophisticated, more enduring cousin, Style -- although I'm much more amenable to its fun and glitter than my friend, Jane.
But for today, while I assemble my list of Paris wardrobe adjustments, the necessary purchases and discards, what it took to let me feel comfortable there, let's take some cues from these species tulips -- not the hybrids whose bulbs will only afford you one or two season's joy, however spectacular. These low/no-care babies naturalize, getting more abundant by the year.
"Consider the lilies of the field; they neither grow nor spin. Yet even Solomon in all his glory . . . .
The same might be said of these darlings. . . .
Scruffy as it is right now, after six or seven weeks of neglect,
my garden has much to teach me . . . and there's more to come, as these barely-orange tulip buds below suggest. Thanks, Jane, for the reminder. . . .


  1. I love the shots of these tulips, hanging out with some of their wilder friends.

    Gardeners are special people. Your neighbor sounds like a lovely woman, in every sense of the word.

  2. I wonder if these would grown in my neck of the woods, or whether even they require colder winters?

  3. Pseu: Exactly -- you get it! They can hang out with wilder friends but still act civilized enough for my garden. You should have a peek at Jane's blog -- she takes wisdom from the garden and applies it to life in general. Just lovely.

    LPC: A little Googling research tells me that there are four species tulips that will manage in N. California: tulipa sylvestris, tulipa saxatilis, t. baxteri (a variant of saxatilis) and t. clusiana. You should be able to get these from a nursery or through a decent mail-order bulb catalogue -- def. worth a try, and I'd love to hear if you have success with them.

  4. I have a longtime Parisienne friend who comes to Canada and always spends time with friends at a very low key, remote cottage. She is completely unstylish, in old shorts and sweatshirt (not even 'hoodie'.) In Paris she is extremely conscious of every piece she wears. She says Muskoka is a relief after the pressure of Paris. There is much to simply wearing clothes and getting on with life in a garden or elsewhere.

  5. I will pass on the names of those species tulips tulips my sweetie as he was a little disappointed in the short lifespan of the costco tulips and your tulips look gorgeous.

  6. She sounds iconic, and how lovley to go home and have spring all over again! Everything is frazzled to a crisp here, my garden has bolted and I know there is little left to flower now. They are having big problems with the Chelsea flower show but at least we might get some different blooms this year.

  7. What a beautiful and accurate description of Jane! The exotic tulip in the wild garden is a good image of here.
    Welcome back to paradise island.

  8. rats! That last word should say....'her' not here. :(

  9. Duchesse: What a great example -- I do wonder, sometimes, how Parisiennes cope with the standards and expectations of their city.
    Susan: I just haven't the patience or energy to keep planting the hybrids, gorgeous though they certainly are. I'd love to know if species tulips find their way into your garden and, with any luck, naturalize.
    Alison: The temps here are still so cool that it's hard to believe spring will come. . . but you're right, it would be a pain to have the garden peak so early, and I can imagine it's a horror for the Chelsea Garden Show.
    Liz: I knew what you meant -- and isn't she great? aren't we lucky to have her here, naturalized into our island?


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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