Flower Poetry Fridays: Gossip with a Spring Bouquet

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

GOSSIP WITH A SPRING
BOUQUET.

SPEAK, speak, sweet guests.
            Yes, ope your lips in words.
‘Tis my delight to talk with you, and fain
I’d have an answer. I’ve been long convinced
You understand me,—though you do not
choose
To wear your bright thoughts on your finger-
tips,
For all to sport with.
            Lily of the Vale,
And you, meek Violet, with your eyes of blue,
I call on you the first,—for well I know
How prone such village maidens are, to hide
Their clear good sense among the city folks,
Unless well urged, and fortified to speak.

— O purple Pansy ! friend of earliest years,
You’re always welcome. Have you never
heard
From some wise grandame, of your ances-
tors,
Who on the margin of my native Thames
Flourished, more vigorous and more fair than
you ?
‘Twas not the fond garrulity of age,
That made her laud the past, without respect
To verity ; for I remember well
How beautiful they were, and with what pride
I used to pluck them, when my school was
o’er,
And love to place them, rich with breathing
sweets,
Between my Bible-leaves, and find them there
Month after month, pressing their bosoms close
To some undying hope.
            Bright Hyacinth,
I’m glad you’ve brought your little ones. How
snug
You wrap them in their hoods. But still I see
Their merry eyes and their plump cheeks
peep out.
Ah ! here’s the baby, in its blanket too :—
You’re a good mother, sure. Don’t be in haste
To take their mantles off; the morn is chill;
I’d rather see them one by one come forth,
Just when they please. A charming family !
And very happy you must doubtless be,
In their sweet promise, and your matron care.

Gay, graceful Tulip, did you learn in France
Your taste for dress ? and how to hold your
head
So elegantly ? In the gale, yestreen,
That o’er the parterre swept with sudden force,
I thought I saw you waltzing. Have a care,
And do not look disdainfully those
You call plebian flowers, because, my dear,
We live in a republic, where the strength
Comes from beneath, and many a change
occurs
To lop the haughty, and to lift the low.

Good neighbor Cowslip, I have seen the bee
Whispering to you, and have been told he
stays
Quite long and late, amid your golden cells.
It must be business that he comes upon,
Matter-of-fact, he never wastes an hour.
Know you, that he’s a subtle financier ?
And shows some gain for every day he spends ?
Oh! learn from him the priceless worth of
time,
Thou fair and frail ! So shalt thou prove the
truth,
That he who doth associate with the wise,
Shall in their wisdom share.
            Narcissus pale !
Had you a mother, child, who kept you close
Over your needle or your music books ?
And never bade you sweep a room, or make
A pudding in the kitchen ? I’m afraid
She shut you from the air, and fervid sun,
To keep you delicate, or let you draw
Your corset-lace too tight. I would you were
As hardy as your cousin Daffodil,
Who to the sharp wind turns her buxom cheek
Unshrinking, like a damsel taught to spin,
Or milk the cows, and knead the bread, and
lead
A useful life, her nerves by labor strung
To bear its duties and its burdens too.

Lilac of Persia ! tell us some fine tale
Of Eastern lands. We’re fond of travellers.
Have you no legend of some Sultan proud ?
Or old fire-worshipper ? Not even one note
Made on your voyage ? Well, ’tis wondrous
strange,
That you should let so rare a chance slip by,
While those who never journeyed half so far,
Fill sundry volumes, and expect the world
To reverently peruse and magnify
What it well knew before.
            Most glorious Rose,
You are the queenly belle. On you, all eyes
Admiring turn. Doubtless you might indite
Romances from your own sweet history.
They’re all the fashion now, and crowd the
page
Of many a periodical. Wilt tell
None of your heart adventures ? Never
mind !
All can detect the zephyr’s stolen kiss
In your deep blush ; so, where’s the use to
seal
Your lips so cunningly, when all the world
Call you the flower of love ?
            And now good-bye ;—
A pleasant gossip have I had with you,
Obliging visitants, but must away
To graver toils. Still keep your incense fresh
And free to rise to Him, who tints your brows,
Bidding the brown mould, and unsightly stem
Put forth such blaze of beauty, as translates
To dullest hearts His dialect of love.

Yes, Mrs. Sigourney, we only have but little of our precious time to spend gossiping in the garden with our flowery friends.

It is time well spent though. Good exercise for the body and the mind.

Isn’t it also great to be outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air? I declare the time spent is worth every minute!

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Hollyhock and Her Visitor”.

Pink Lady Slipper Blooming Cohort

The wild black cherry trees bloomed this past week and in profusion. Their tubular drifts of little white blooms are now missing petals and hanging downward due to all the wind and rain they’ve experienced in the last few days.

Meanwhile, the pink lady slippers are full open in the woodlands.

Pink Lady Slipper
Pink Lady Slipper

Without the woods these pretty in pink flowers will die off. There’s something about the forest habitat that they need to survive. Those that do get transplanted to gardens will die out, unfortunately. Even the best gardeners will have a tough time providing all that the forest does to keep these beauties happy.

They’re interesting flowers with the irregular shape of a shoe or moccasin and lots of veining on the outer lips or petals.

I always used to think about the Pink Lady Slipper wildflower at Mother’s Day. Some years I’d be early and other years I’d be late depending on the calendar and the weather. This year the lady slippers weren’t quite in full bloom when Mother’s Day came and went.

Instead of using Mother’s Day to mark when these orchids should be blooming, I’ll be looking for the wild black cherry trees and blackberries to be in bloom. Chances are good that other plants experiencing the actual weather circumstances will help to predict annual bloom times of local plants much better than a holiday that has no set date from year to year.

To find one plant when it’s in bloom we can use other more common plants in the vicinity as markers to help locate them.

Plants that bloom at the same time are considered to be members of a ‘blooming cohort’. Many different species can be members of such a group.

This year we’ve seen the following plants blooming at roughly the same time as the pink lady slipper:

  • Wild Black Cherry
  • Blackberry
  • Black Raspberry (just budding)
  • Star-of-Bethlehem
  • Bastard Toadflax
  • Wild Geranium

That is to say that the above flowers would be in a blooming cohort with Pink Lady Slippers.

In this example say you’re driving down the road and see wild cherry trees or blackberries in bloom at the edge of a field. Knowing that these two plants are in the blooming cohort with pink lady slippers, you automatically know it’s a good time to take a woodland walk to look for pink lady slippers in bloom.

We can also construct seasonal cohorts to help identify our blooming friends. Some flowers are known to bloom only in Spring while others bloom during the heat of Summer.

Poetry of the Earth Program in East Haven, CT

For Your Information a program called “Poetry of the Earth” is coming up in East Haven, CT that will celebrate our beloved Mrs. Sigourney and her flower poetry.

The Voice of Flowers 7th. ed. 1848
The Voice of Flowers 1848

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Fawn Gillespie, Hagaman Memorial Library 203-468-3890 fgillespie@hagamanlibrary.org
East Haven, Connecticut-

Poetry of the Earth- Poet Lydia Huntley Sigourney, (1791-1865) termed flowers, the poetry of the earth and wrote a volume of poetry, Voice of the Flowers. Take a Victorian journey and be introduced to this local poet’s words by organic farmer, floral designer and owner of Trout Lily Farm, Mr. Michael Russo. Mr. Russo will conduct a PowerPoint presentation featuring his Language of Flowers books and Victorian Valentines, highlighting Mrs. Sigourney’s flower themed poetry. May 26th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hagaman Memorial Library 227 Main Street, East Haven, Connecticut.

This program is made possible by a grant from Connecticut Humanities. Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, supports cultural and historic organizations that tell the state’s stories, build community and enrich lives. For further information, please contact Fawn Gillespie at 203-468-3890.

Take the opportunity to go to this event if you’re in the area. If you’re lucky enough to be able to go, we’d love to know how you enjoyed the evening.

Flower Poetry Fridays: Wild Flowers Gathered for a Sick Friend

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

WILD FLOWERS, GATHERED
FOR A SICK FRIEND.

Wildflower Bouquet
Wildflower Bouquet

RISE from the dells where ye first were born,
From the tangled beds of the weed and thorn ;
Rise, for the dews of the morn are bright,
And haste away with your eyes of light.
The greenhouse princes, with gathering frown,
On your simple garbs may look haughtily down,
Yet shrink not—His finger your heads hath
bowed,
Who heeds the lowly, and humbles the proud.
The tardy spring, and the frosty sky,
Have meted your robes with a miser’s eye,
And checked the blush of your blossoms free ;
With a gentler friend your home shall be,
To a kinder ear you may tell your tale
Of the zephyr’s kiss, and the scented gale.
Ye are charmed ! ye are charmed ! and your
fragrant sigh
Is health to the bosom on which ye die.

In this short poem Mrs. Sigourney is talking to the wildflowers and letting them know they’ll appreciate where she’s taking them.

Plucking them from the thorny and wild places to take them to a sick friend is akin to saving the wildflowers from their plight amongst the weeds never to be seen.

Once the wildflowers are safe in her bouquet they can release their charming and uplifting scents to refresh the air and renew her sick friend.

Let’s keep it short and sweet and do nice things for each other.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “Gossip with a Spring Bouquet”.

Spring Beauty Still Flowering in Woodlands

Where you see one Spring Beauty in flower there are bound to be many others in bloom at the same time. Spring beauties bloom for a couple of weeks and en masse.

Spring Beauty Blooming with Violets and Dandelions
Spring Beauty Blooming with Violets and Dandelions

The small plant showing off these dainty little flowers is called Spring Beauty, known also as Claytonia virginica.

The blooms range from pure white to white with dark pink veins. These little white flowers are almost the size of a violet Continue reading Spring Beauty Still Flowering in Woodlands

Yellow Star-like Flowering Weed is a Buttercup

A yellow-flowered weedy looking plant seemed familiar when I saw it on the trail at Little Buffalo State Park. I try not to discriminate amongst my flowering friends, so even the smallest weed can get my attention.

This new plant was at the edge of the grass near the old grist mill, where the lawn meets the forest. I’ll have to go back and get some better pictures before the lawnmowers take it out.

Kidneyleaf Buttercup Blooms at the Edge of the Woods
Kidneyleaf Buttercup Blooms at the Edge of the Woods

Standing about a foot tall was a wildflower plant with small, star-shaped flowers having 5 petals. Two plants were flowering and each had only a couple of pale yellow blooms open.

According to the Peterson Wildflower Guide we’re looking at the Kidneyleaf Buttercup, Ranunculus abortivus, also known as the Small-Flowered Buttercup or Small-Flowered Crowfoot.

Leaves help to define this plant to species.

Basal leaves are kidney-shaped with wide, rounded teeth on the outer edge. The long-stemmed basal leaves can be seen at the bottom of the plant in the background in the photo below.

Leaves and Flowers of Kidneyleaf Buttercup
Leaves and Flowers of Kidneyleaf Buttercup

Stem leaves look quite different as they do not have their own stems so they arise directly from the smooth main stem. They are deeply lobed so that they look like 2-3 separate skinny leaves.

The two plants I saw were just starting to bloom.

Look forward to this Buttercup Family member to bloom in the woods well into the summer.

Flower Poetry Fridays: Transplanted Flowers

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

TRANSPLANTED FLOWERS.

Greenhouse Flowers Await Transplanting
Greenhouse Flowers Await Transplanting

THERE’S many a flower that proudly springs
Amid the gaudy world’s parterre,
Caress’d by Fashion’s painted wings,
                  To Folly dear.

Whose flaunting petals woo the sun,
Heedless of Beauty’s transient lot,
But wither ere the day is done,
                  Unwept, forgot.

Yet some there are that bloom apart,
With meekly consecrated charm,
Whose gifts of fragrance cheer the heart
                  Like healing balm.

O’er the blest spot, where erst they grew,
The eye of Love its tears shall shed,
And Pain and Penury bedew
                  Their funeral bed.

But, neath an everlasting beam
They smile, where no dark cloud descends ;
Theirs was that hallow’d incense stream,
                  Which heavenward tends.

Unfading, lo ! they live, they bloom—
Transplanted by His culturing hand,
Who bade them seek beyond the tomb
                  A better land.

This poem seems totally religious with its comparison of the proud, pretty flowers and the meek, charming ones to non-believers and believers, alike.

Gaudy flowers adorn the formal gardens for all to see and walk among. They live a proud, mortal and fleeting life where fashion and image is everything. With no eye toward their ultimate future, their life is folly. Outward beauty doesn’t last, does it?

The transplanted flowers represent believers who look forward to life after this earthly world. They believe in The Everlasting Beam and in a heavenly future for themselves where they will bloom again.

But, there is still something here we can learn about flowers.

I liked this phrase, “gifts of fragrance cheer the heart“. It spells out one of the things that draws me to flowers and that’s their fragrances. It’s so cool to think of a good smelling flower as giving you a gift!

When it comes time to pick out roses for your garden, choose them by scent first.

Above all, take time to smell the roses!

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “Wild Flowers Gathered for a Sick Friend”.

Is Transplanting Natives Ever A Bad Idea?

From what was the tiniest clump of plant with about 4 posies, bluets that were transplanted have grown into a mass over a foot in diameter with several little satellite plants a few feet away from the mother plant. I can see how these little bluets could colonize the whole field!

Now, in transplanting these plants to a new location, have I done a good thing or a bad thing?

I’d say good, or great, as to the purpose of the flowers being near the house which was to watch them grow (education) and provide smiles (entertainment). So, good for the people in the vicinity that give a crap about flowers.

Others would see it as a weed interrupting the monotony of their (non-sustainable) green lawns. I, myself, vote for the addition of color and interest to the place.

From an ecological perspective was taking a plant that grew in an open field at a location 10 miles from here a wise thing? I dunno. Is transplanting any plant a wise move?

People have moved and taken plants with them on their journeys since forever. It’s nothing new. Ecosystems adapt to new inhabitants and life goes on, albeit somewhat changed on a local level. Sometimes those changes are so profound that reverberations are felt in much wider circles than the localized habitat.

The little plant was moved from a sunny field, which used to be forest at one time and adjacent to a river, so the seeds that started the mother colony must have come from somewhere else. Were seeds blown on the wind? Did seeds get deposited via a small mammal or birds wandering by? Maybe rain water running to the river brought seeds to this spot many years ago.

The size of the plant makes worries of potential invasiveness moot. Bluets may attain a height of 8 inches at the most, the flowers typically rise 4-6 inches off the ground, and it’s not a climbing plant so it doesn’t seem to have the qualities that are typically of concern regarding invasives.

However, the fact that a new plant is now growing where other plants used to grow means that it has displaced the old plants. When this sort of displacement happens on a large scale we worry about the potential loss of those species that no longer grow there.

In this case the plants being displaced by the new bluets are other weeds, moss and some grass, I suppose. Nothing really lost there.

But, it does bring up a question in general. We all get the sense that it’s a good idea, ecologically speaking, to plant natives vs. non-native plants, both for the survival of the transplanted plant and the lesser disruption to the existing habitat by moving in plants that could adapt to the local environment.

But what about transplanting natives? Is there a proper way to judge when transplanting natives is a bad idea? Curious what y’all think about that!