Flower Poetry Fridays: The Hollyhock and Her Visitor

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


A LARGE bumble-bee often visited a stately
hollyhock. He lingered in the deep red cup
that she made for him, and talked busily with
her. The neighboring flowers heard the full
tones of his voice, but could not distinguish
his words.
At length, a tall larkspur bent her ear, and
listening closely, understood him to say, " I am
very rich. I have gathered much pollen. I
store it in a large wax palace, which I shall
fill with honey. None of the bumble-bees in
the village can compare with me."
" Oh, it must make you very happy," an-
swered the hollyhock, " that when any poor,
sick bees come and ask relief, you will have
plenty for them, as well as yourself."
" I cannot undertake to feed them" he re-
" Every one must provide for himself.
I worked hard to get what is mine. Let others
go and do the same."
" But will you be able to use all that you
have laid up ? And, if not, what good will it
do you ?" asked the hollyhock, blushing more
brightly from the earnestness with which
she spoke.
" I never expect to use half of it, but I do
not choose to give it away. What good will it
do me to hoard it up, do you ask ? Why, don’t
I hear people say, there goes the rich bumble
bee ? That pleases me."
" I will tell you how to get rich, too. Open
your leaves wide when the sun shines, and
gather all the beams you can, and keep them
close in your secret chamber. Then, when
the dews fall, and you have drank as much as
possible, shut yourself up, and do not let a
single drop escape on the buds below ; so you
will be sure to grow larger than they."
But the hollyhock said, " There is no avarice
among flowers. We take what our Father
sends, and are glad. We do not wrinkle our
brows with care, or grow old before our time."
The bumble-bee drew nearer still, and said,
" You know nothing at all about the pleasures
that wealth can bring. Listen ! I think of
setting up an equipage. I shall have two glow
worms for postillions ; you know their lamps
will cost me nothing. But you must not breathe
this, for I have not yet mentioned it to my
The hollyhock replied with a clear voice,
" There is neither meum nor tuum among the
flower-people. We like to share with others
the good things that come to us from above.
It makes us happier than to sound a trumpet
before us, and boast of riches with which we
do no good."
Then the large bumble-bee seemed offended
at his friend the hollyhock, and, buzzing in an
angry tone, flew away.

I do like that Mrs. Sigourney lends such endearing qualities to our flowering friends. Here, her hollyhock has little patience for the greedy bumble-bee and his penchant for obtaining more, more, more. She also shows compassion for the less fortunate and needy.

The vision of two ‘glowworms as postillions‘ made me think of the animated Alice in Wonderland. Mrs. Sigourney has a knack for creating interesting and fitting characters for her flowery friends.

Have to admit I had to look up meum and tuum, which refer to mine and thine, respectively, meaning there is no mine and yours and no ownership among the flower-people.

If we can practice an attitude of gratitude and share the bounty of blessings we receive, the world will be a better place. Be like the Hollyhock:

We take what our Father sends, and are glad.
We do not wrinkle our brows with care,
or grow old before our time.

Que Sera, Sera!

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

Shenk’s Ferry Avoided By Proposed Pipeline Route

Did you hear that Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve could have been changed forever if the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with the original plan?

Last Spring I was horrified to hear of this plan to take over a corridor of river land in Lancaster County, PA for a gas pipeline.

Concerns about the pipeline project were aired at an informational meeting held on April 29, 2014. The meeting’s purpose was to gather information about the pipeline project and it stretched out over 2 1/2 hours long. Comments about what each speaker had to say are on the page below the video so you can skip to the important parts.

The public was allowed to speak at this meeting and not one of those citizens taking the microphone was FOR the project. ALL were against its approval as it was originally proposed.

Public outcry was heard by the powers that be so the proposed pipeline route was revised to avoid several Lancaster County nature preserves. Hooray!

It’s safe to say that there were/are A LOT of concerned citizens regarding the interstate gas pipeline system called the Central Penn Line South that would connect to the proposed pipeline.

People from far and near visit the natural areas that would be degraded for the purpose of merely transporting a fossil fuel from one area to the next. We all spend money on gas and food and maybe even hotels when visiting the beautiful glens, nature preserves and wildflower areas that were on the chopping block.

Many more people should go to Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve to see the mass of bluebells that bloom there in April. There are so many beautiful flowers at Shenk’s Ferry, it’s by far the richest wildflower place I’ve ever seen!

How can ANYONE justify the demise of these beautiful areas for a few measly dollars? You really can’t buy happiness, people!

The benefits to the visitors of these naturally beautiful areas are too great to measure. The exhilaration of seeing for the first time or the tenth time the beauty and wonder of such a glorious place is indeed priceless. If you haven’t been there and wonder what all the fuss is about, take a walk on the trail and see it for yourself.

Here are some negatives to the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project that still exist for the landowners involved in the new pipeline plan:

  • 350 properties would be affected and partially destroyed
  • people living and working around the site would have to live with a new danger in their backyards
  • the site is documented as an environmentally sensitive area
  • the site was primarily set aside to be protected for future generations to enjoy
  • the site is documented as an earthquake sensitive zone, meaning that the potential for pipeline disruption is high
  • the people and farms that would be disrupted won’t benefit from the gas that would be transported through their backyards
  • the air in Lancaster County is very polluted and we can’t afford to lose the forest on the site as the trees’ function of cleaning the air would be lost
  • removal of vegetation at the site will increase sedimentation in associated streams which has a documented bad effect on waterway inhabitants
  • forest fragmentation would occur limiting the success of many inhabitants
  • heavy equipment would cause soil compaction which will increase runoff that could cause erosion that would need to be further managed
  • the gain will only go to the transport and utility companies, not the people who are already living and working on the site, indeed they will suffer a great loss
  • williams co doesn’t have a great safety track record with several documented problems at various sites

Here are all the positives to the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project:

  • convenience for the gas transport company

Yeah, you read that right. NO positives to this pipeline project for the local people nor the local environment nor the adjoining areas that could be affected with increased air pollution, water pollution, and noise pollution.

Some of the points raised here were brought to light at the public meeting on 29 April 2014.

We didn’t make it Shenk’s Ferry this Spring, but count on it next time around! Hope to see you all there!

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.


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
To wear your bright thoughts on your finger-
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
From some wise grandame, of your ances-
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
And love to place them, rich with breathing
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
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
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
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
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
Thou fair and frail ! So shalt thou prove the
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
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
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
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
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


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.


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
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

Read more

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.