14 February 2007

Hearts, roses, snowstorms and lilies

"Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter;
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness"

(Shakespeare, from Much Ado About Nothing)

I’ve poached that quote rather shamelessly from the Old Farmer’s Almanac newsletter , because if there’s a more perfect description for a bad mood than a February face, I don’t know what it would be. Mind you, this day is full of frost, but also sunlight and crystal clear skies, which is why I’m contentedly sitting in my office watching the birds stuff themselves at the feeders. How long the nice weather will last is anyone’s guess, as the weather networks and Environment Canada and just about any prognosticator you can think of are screaming about a winter storm headed this way. A few centimeters of snow, some ice and then rain is what we’re supposed to get, which is nothing to get excited about. Those poor people in parts of the US are the ones I feel sorry for. 140 INCHES of snow in some places, or more? And still coming? I won’t growl about a few inches here. Although I don’t think the weather forecasters saw ‘White Juan’ coming back in February of 2004, so we’ll just sit and wait to see what happens here. It’ll be another excuse for those poor overworked teachers to have school cancelled, no doubt. (whoops, that was a bit of a rant, wasn’t it?)

Today is the Great Day of Guilt, Valentine’s Day, when millions of roses and other flowers will give their lives in an effort for spouses to tell their mates how much they love them. I don’t get roses on Valentine’s Day, by choice; I’d much rather prefer that my longsuffering spouse give me roses when he feels like it, rather than on some hallmark holiday.

Still, I like thinking about roses—the type that grow in my garden, not the pampered pets of florists. We have some wonderful roses bred right here in Canada, the Explorer and the Parkland series, and I tend to recommend these to people who want to have roses in their gardens but don’t want to have to fuss with them excessively. My favourites from these two are Henry Hudson, a white rugosa type, John Cabot, a red climber, Mordon Sunrise, a gloriously yellow-orange-coral blend, Quadra, a deep rich red, quartered double bloomer, and J.P. Connell, a lovely soft yellow. But my absolute favourite roses are Schneekopf (Snow Pavement), a rose described by author Barbara Wilde in her wonderful book Growing Roses Organically as being the colour of whipped cream with a few drops of blackberry juice added. It’s almost lavender. And its fragrance is divine.

Speaking of fragrance, I’ve also got lilies on my mind right now. No, I’m not thinking about Easter, though I do love the ghostly white and fragrant white lilies associated with that holy day. I’m thinking more about floods of lilies in the garden, fragrant Orientals, showy Asiatics, exciting crossbreds, and how much I enjoy them. Well, a young woman I know has developed a business here in the Annapolis Valley, selling aftermarket lilies—these are lilies that were used once for cut flowers; they are still perfectly good bulbs, and will flower the first year they’re planted, and then in subsequent years produce even more blooms. Tracey’s business is called—wait for it—Lilies FROM the Valley, which I think is totally delightful, and I’ve been drooling over her website, dreaming about which lilies we need to add to our garden. Hey, at 8.00 or 10.00 for a DOZEN bulbs—or more accurately, tubers—I guess we’ll have quite a few different colours. Of course, I’ll lean towards the fragrant Orientals and Oriental crosses like the Stargazer in this photo, but I like Asiatics too for their brilliant colours.

If I do have a bit of a mood going on today, it's because I'm feeling deeply saddened for a dear friend of mine, who lost her mother to a long battle with cancer just a couple of weeks back. I haven't yet decided what I'll plant in my memory garden for this incredibly brave and loving woman, but it'll be a shrub or tree that echoes her strength and wisdom. Probably a hardy
azalea, preferably one of the Lights series, and one of the fragrant ones, so that it both brightens the spot where it is and casts its sweet scent around the garden. It won't bring this lovely woman back, but perhaps, just perhaps, it'll give my friend and her family some little comfort.

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