Saturday, February 22, 2014

To Sip the Sweets of the Hollyhock—

"What is the love of the tulip to me?
Said the happy and droning tipsy bee; 
The rose may blush as I hasten by, 
The lily may hang her head and die: 
But oh ! at their jealous pangs I mock, 
Mine be the juice of the hollyhock— 
To sip the sweets of the hollyhock— 
The tipsy sweets of the hollyhock
Mine, mine, mine the juice of the hollyhock!"  

I can't grow the standard hollyhocks.  Too much shade.  Sad, sad, sad. 

But I dream of having them as I carefully examine all the varieties in the 2014 seed catalogs and the 19th century articles on new varieties!  

Personally, I hate the doubles. To me they look like wadded up kleenex. 

Hollyhocks are just so in-your-face happy looking. You can't miss them when they are around. They cry out to be in children's book illustrations!

And, as I have sampled the web for hollyhock info, I see that many, many other people love them, too. Dozens of blogs have spoken of them, their history and their culture. An absolutely wonderful 6 part blog article on hollyhocks from Pomona Belvedere at covers it with delightful eloquence and practicality. I'll list a few more at the end of this post.  What I have to add today to this fine body of hollyhock information is a few photos.


Landreth Seeds - brief history and 21st century growing instructions  (This is the original company established over 100 years ago though.)

Swallowtail Seeds - 36 varieties! - a special treat, on hollyhocks and many other plants in her garden

1891 - Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Home Farmer

Friday, February 21, 2014

Grumpy Chicks Like Flowers

A legend tells when the Creator thought he had finished giving the flowers their colours, he heard one whisper "Forget me not!" There was nothing left but a very small amount of blue, but the forget-me-not was delighted to wear such a light blue shade.        Wimpy legend from Wikipedia

The first time I saw forget-me-nots was in my mother-in-laws vegetable garden.  They came up every year on their own, making a delightful blue counterpoint to vegetables.  Their happy pale blue is not lost in the green of summer and perks up the scene.  

When I bumped into this Burt's seed packet I remembered those and I remembered a few charming but odd postcards from turn of the 20th century I once had, one of forget-me-not filled baskets being hauled around by chickens! 

This card has the grumpy chick look I remembered from my all cards.   Many more strange and charming cards are at the bottom of this post.

In a quick search I only found one ad that mentions a specific variety a century ago.  While it is a hybrid, I think it counts as they wanted a long period of bloom rather than a new looking flower.                                                     It is hard to improve on the original flower, Other ads just say they have forget-me-nots. 

One more legend.

An 1869 article about forget-me-nots fills us in on their popular history.
THE turquoise is truly a lovely gem; yet how inferior is it in beauty to what Coleridge calls " Hope's gentle gem, the sweet forget-me-not." The blue of its first cousins, the brooklime, speedwell or "bird's-eye,"—members of the graceful Veronica family—is also one of those lovely blues that are, this season, among the fashionable colours ; but its hue among gems would match it with the lapis-lazuli and not with the turquoise.

 Forget-me-nots formed the trimming to the blue dress worn by the Princess of Wales at the state ball on July 2nd, and forget-me-nots were also in her head-dress. Out-of-doors they were in full season ; and Ihad seen large turquoise masses of them within a few yards of the very spot where the lovely Queen of Scots had bared her neck to the stroke of death in the banquet-hall of Fotheringhay. But I have never seen the forget-me-not in more luxuriant beauty than in that river in which the poet Cowper was wont to bathe, and whose sinuous course he has celebrated in his poetic descriptions—the river Ouse. Not only on this river's banks, but marking the tracks of all its tributary streams, are such clumps and beds of forget-me-nots as I have never seen surpassed in fineness of flower and purity of colour ; and even every little ditch in the vicinity of the river is glorified by the same wealth of natural gems. 
Some say that the forget-me-not will improve on cultivation ; but I have found that the plants removed carefully from the brink of the Ouse, although they flourish in the garden, are not covered with such fine blossoms. Nevertheless, as it is a free grower, and will take other trimming than that above alluded to in connection with ladies' dress, it is a very useful plant for the garden, and can be used to great advantage in a ribbon-border. I have seen miles of it so used in the gardens of Lord S , where its turquoise tint had no rival even amid the myriad hues around.

 Old Gerarde made the flower to be both useful and ornamental; for he says that it is a " remedy agaynst the stinging of scorpions." We may, however, content ourselves with its present loveliness and popular name, whatever its past history may have been in flower folk-lore. Mills, in his Origin of Chivalry, has assigned its choice as a token-flower to our own Henry of Lancaster, who, for a tender motive, wore the forget-menot on his collar of SS. ; but the German legend concerning the flower will probably continue to flourish in poetry, notwithstanding varieties in the version, and minor discrepancies in the tale. Thus, one version accounts for the knight being swept away by the stream as he was gathering the turquoise flowers, by saying that he was heavily clad in armour. But among those who have made poems out of this legend is our own Bishop Mant; and I think that he has skilfully accounted for all difficulties by representing the lady as seeing the forget-me-nots gemming a small island fixed in the midst of a rapid river, which, in his endeavours to re-cross, overpowers the knight's strength.

Then the blossoms blue to the bank he threw,
Ere he sank in the eddying tide ; 
And "Lady, I'm gone, thine own knight true,— 
Forget me not!" he cried.

Upon which she cherished the fatal flower, and gave it the name of "Forget-me-not," which certainly sounds much prettier than its proper botanical title of the Mouse-ear Scorpion-grass, Myosotis palustris.

Good old Ebay did not fail me when I looked for more postcards.

The next are from my flowered transportation
collection.   On land and sea and in the air the forget-me-not has been called upon to decorate these whimsical conveyances. My favorites here are the hot air balloons...who knew that Father Xmas used them when the reindeer were out of order!

Hardworking accountants?  I think this is an Easter card as Bockpece means Risen.

These are the tidiest jelly beans you are ever going to see.

 I find this an odd design...looks like hams hanging in a smoke house.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love That Lawn Roller....

above: Notice the scythe...
A good garden tool makes people happy.  Enjoy!

What a good brick garden wall.  I want it.

Hmm...Little Red Riding Hood and her lawn roller?

This next one is fuzzy, but fantastic!!  Mother and daughter?  They are having a wonderful time.

below: What is the story here?  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Seeds: The Mid-century Art of Karl Mann

The coolest thing about zipping around the internet chasing seedy themes is discovering things I did not know about.  The older you get, the rarer that feeling of surprise becomes!   
Mann continues to work with collage and assemblage to this day...very different from these early pieces. Check out his web site.

I had never seen Karl Mann's works from the 1950s.  I'd love to have these three pieces that were at Skinner's auction.