Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More Garden, More Memory. . .


 Travel photos are an obvious form of memory, as mine of Barcelona. I wrote about another kind last week when remembering my mother through the flowers she'd planted in my garden. But here's an exquisite example of a different form of memory. This erythronium oregonum (common name, White Fawn Lily) has not bloomed here for the twenty-some years we've owned the property. I can't be sure it hasn't at least poked leaves above the ground over the years, but I've never noticed them, and as you can see if you look closely, they're rather distinctive.

It's in a side swath of the garden, a fairly large patch that's under a canopy of tall conifers, and we've left many of the native ferns and shrubs in place, but there would have been considerable disruption when the lot was first cleared for building in the '70s.  My plan has been to keep the snowberry bushes under control (they'd be quite happy to have the whole place to themselves)  and similarly request that the salal and Oregon grape (mahonia aquifolium) leave room for some compatible perennials I'm introducing gradually.  I've popped a rhodo here, an azalea there, an oakleaf hydrangea and a few winter-flowering shrubs to brighten February.
 But I hadn't ever thought to plant erythronium, even though they are available as bulbs from several good nurseries nearby.

So can you imagine how delighted I was when out doing the first of the season's weeding on the weekend? There are indigenous patches of these early spring charmers in a number of spots on the island, but I've never seen one in our yard. How or why this bulb finally "remembered" its programmed task, I have no idea. What was it about this year's conditions that triggered this bloom's determined push upward to the light, following a botanical blueprint's intricacy of instructions to unfold leaves patterned and coloured just so. Step 1 leads to Step 2, Tab B meets Tab F, no wheels missing in this Ikea package, with the happy result that this perfection is delivered and assembled and greeted by its companions in the garden bed.

The nearby fern will have some organic "memory" of this fawn lily, perhaps, although not on the sentient level we recognize. But the two may well have been connected under the soil's surface for decades, they may have enjoyed winters of composting their cast-off parts together, have shared the hosting of an infinity of insects.
So much wonder, a near-infinity to contemplate, more than I have time to think or, certainly, to write about on a Tuesday morning before dashing off to work.

Humbling, though. And awe-inspiring. And memorable, whether photographed or not.

13 comments:

  1. Such a very pretty little woodland flower. Makes you think that's where the ideas of faeries must have originated.

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  2. I have been noticing these on my walks....how lovely to have some in your very own garden. Like Lisa mentioned they do make one think of fairies or garden nymphs.

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    1. I'm hoping this one will talk its friends into putting their heads above ground next spring . . .

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  3. Nature is such a wonder. Thanks for sharing this little bit of wonder with us.

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  4. Thanks for reminding me that magic doesn't really come from nowhere, and it's still magic.

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  5. The natural greenery is so beautiful. The small white flower blooming almost forgotten…. It does seem like magic.

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  6. Perhaps this first fawn lily is a scout making certain of a welcome for others in the years to come. One can hope!

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    1. Love this thought -- I'm certainly hoping this one will multiply.

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  7. Oh how I love your garden posts! I used to have erythronium. They always make me smile.

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    1. I imagine you had swathes of them in your lovely woodland garden. . .

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