Blossom as Blossom

With frosty temperatures down to minus four, forecast tonight, I’ll be protecting my container olive tree and dwarf cherries with horticultural fleece. In the picture here, from Les Fleures Animée, 1847, Grandville personifies the peach tree as a shivering young woman espaliered against a wall. She’s dressed for a ball, not for the weather. In…

Besler’s Bulbs

​Daffodils or Narcissus pseudonarcissus from Basilius Besler’s sublime Hortus Eystettensis, first published in 1613. The Hortus Eystettensis illustrated more than 1,000 flowering plants from the gardens of the Prince-Bishop of Eichstatt, Germany. What a garden it must have been!  Although Besler’s name is associated with the work, he was an apothecary, not an artist. He…

Spring Messenger

“Spring is coming, Thou art come!” wrote William Wordsworth in his poem To The Small Celandine. He was delighted by the arrival of this flower, which promised the return of the sun “when we’ve little warmth, or none.” It may be an annoyingly persistent weed to some gardeners, but it is said to have been…

Vedas of the Violet

True Brahmin, in the morning meadows wet, Expound the Vedas of the violet (from The Gardener, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Quatrains) Violets have long held a reputation for inspiring finer feelings, often associated with the spirit of childhood and innocence. Culpeper introduces the flower as “a fine, pleasing plant… of a mild nature and in no…