Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Under Sea Worldness of Chihuly-like Pumpkinery

Cucurbita Female Pumpkin Flower

The strange, fluid, other-worldliness of the pumpkin patch looks far more like it belongs under the sea than under my kitchen window

Sea Anemone or Landlubber Flower?

The flowing openess of the flowers. The languid look of the large petals. The coiling tendrils. It is all very, very fluid.

Ready to Swirl and Sway In the Ocean?

These are more like plants I would see on a scuba dive - ready to swirl and sway in an ocean current - than plants exposed on a dry, rocky outcrop.

No Elvis Here, Just Ringo

Some people see Elvis; others see fractals; I see sea anemones. The garden sets off free association imagery like dominoes knocking one image down against another image of experiences and pop culture, (and now add to it blogs,) in my head. In the days of hodden grey, the church and nature provided imagery stimulus so folks saw the Madonna in the tree bark. Nowadays of mass media culture people see Elvis in a gherkin or an Octopus's garden in a pumpkin patch.

...Or , how about Chihuly...

Picture of Chihuly's Persians - Photo credit unknown

Dale Chihuly is an artist whose glass sculptures - the Persians series - drift through the other-world of my pumpkin crevasse. No, I haven't eaten Datura, but I have blown glass .

Pumpkin Visions Come From My Blowing Glass...Not From My Eating Datura

Every time I look at the pumpkins I am stunned with images of Chihuly's Persians I have seen in Victoria, Seattle, Las Vegas, galleries and museums. See fer yerself - thar ain't no denyin' it...


Godly Gourd - The Good Pumpkin - Served At The First Thanksgiving
Canada we have Thanksgiving in October Whilst Our American Neighbours in November

The Garden Brae pumpkin patch is actually more of a pumpkin crevasse. Pumpkins need a sunny, well-drained site. I planted mine in a crevasse on a hot, rocky outcrop and left them to fend for themselves. Nope, I didn't get involved in their sex life either. I left the male and female flowers to co-mingle with whatever bee - go- betweens that happened upon them.

And yet, with this neglect, they still graciously rewarded me with the beauty of their special world! Because of their location up on the rock and the sun shining through them I had a wonderful vantage of being below them looking up into their pumpkin realm, almost like I was floating through them. I feel kinda guilty though ....

Terry and Lisa (my sisters) Portraits in Pumpkin

The pumpkin abuse isn't over a couple of weeks they will go under the knife for pies and for my pumpkin art!

* * *
Genius Loci thought: Pumpkins are kin to the spirit of the place. They thrived against the odds and settled in to the natural beauty of the landscape. Next year they get care, attention, and a wee bit of coaxing in their sex life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Infamous Datura: The Plant of Zombies and Angels

Datura metel

Fragrant, beautiful and deadly the Datura sits in a pot on my porch. I don't trust it. I am suspicious about a plant known as Devil's Trumpet or Zombie Cucumber. Then again, would garden nurseries sell it if it really is the magic potion of evil it is trumpeted to be?

Datura in a pot with a gargoyle statue
Datura sits in a pot on my porch. I don't trust it.

datura in a pot with a gargoyle
Datura also known as Angels Trumpet

A waft of my Datura's fragrance is both beautiful and disgusting. Sometimes I like its heavy, mysterious scent hanging in the air. Other times I find the scent cloying, smothering and nauseating.

Datura also known as Thorn Apple

True, the Datura is beautiful with its unusual "thorn apple" fruits and its trumpet flowers of swirls and ruffles. But, frankly, I am often repulsed by its morbid weirdness and avoid looking at it.

The Sinister History of The Datura

The history of the Datura as
deadly narcotic,
zombie food,
shaman's potion,
witches brew,
are well documented.

One of its many common names,
Jimson weed
is because of its recorded crazy effect
on British soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676.

A plant that can both compel and repel me - very interesting - gotta love it. But I still don't trust it. So the Datura sits on the porch in a pot guarded by a gargoyle where I can keep my eye on it.

Solanaceae Datura metel - BEWARE

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ghostly Ménage à Trois

ghost plant
Ghost Plant Monotropa uniflora

Ghosts! White, translucent, fleshy, and covered with scales nodding in a spooky little group under a tree. It has been 15 years since I saw my last apparition of these plants. What a surprise and rare delight to find these haunting the Garden Brae. Who knows when I will get a chance to write about them again?

What I learned from a Ménage à trois with Ghost Plants :

Forest trees depend on a symbiotic relationship with the fungi at their feet
  • Forest trees are like a sugar daddy to fungus by providing carbohydrates to the fungus
  • Fungus in turn give a little TLC to trees in the form of N-P-K and H2O by providing nutrients and water to the trees
Enter in to this happy relationship the usurping pretty little Monotropa uniflora
  • Monotropa uniflora insinuates itself into the intimate relationship of the forest tree and fungus
  • The ghostly little flower sneaks sugar from the tree intended for the fungus and filches nutrients and water from the fungus intended for the tree.
close up of ghost plant

Current belief is that Monotropa uniflora is a selfish partner and gives nothing in return to tree or fungus in this relationship - that is what makes Monotropa a parasitic plant.

Whereas, it was once thought that Monotropa was saprophytic which fed on dead or decaying vegetation. (Is there a test at the end of this, or what?)

What is the relationship of the tree and fungus you ask?
- Why, it is a mutualistic symbiotic association, ofcourse! - because both tree and fungus gain mutual benefit from each other.

This fascinating plant is the subject of intense study lately to discover its potent hormonal system that sucks sugars away from fungus for its own successful survival.

* * *
Genius Loci thought: Is my relationship to my garden parasitic, saprophytic or mutualistic?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Photographing Ghosts In The Garden

ghost plant grouping also known as monotropa translucent little flower with glow of sunset orange on it
Monotropa uniflora

Photographing Ghosts in the Garden is creepy if you consider the subject in the lens is found only in dark woodlands and is known by such morbid names as:
Convulsion Root
Corpse plant
Death plant
Fairy smoke
Ghost flower
Here, on the Island, we mostly call it Indian Pipe (in reference to its pipe-like shape). And far from creepy, I find it a fascinating and cheeky little plant whose ménage à trois existence between trees, fungus and itself is more than a a little beguiling. A botanist's description of the plant as "a waxy white saprophyte of deep forest shade" is ooooh so hauntingly lovely! It evokes a film noir femme fatale as spoken by a hard boiled detective like Bogie or Mitchum as Marlowe...
"... she 'was a waxy white saprophyte of deep forest shade' that haunted the mind of every man in the room. She was a flower alright, a ghost flower, and that spelled corpse plant to the man who did her wrong. And that ain't no fairy smoke to a tough gumshoe like me."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seduction of Summer

The Seduction of Summer and silly pastimes is almost over. Dawdling dalliances with frogs must end. Time to dust off the ol' laptop and get back to the blog, and work, and school and all those things responsible people should do.

Clinging On To Summer

Then again, maybe I can cling on to the lingering days of summer a bit longer...
and ponder...
If I had kept up with my yoga through summer I could reach that frog with my lips and give it a kiss and voila! I have a prince!

"One Day My Prince Will Come" .. Down Off The Roof tra la la

My prince is actually on the roof checking the flashing on the skylights and getting ready to clean the gutters all in preparation for winter.
And, no doubt, wondering where the heck I am and why haven't I tidied up the deck yet.
Oh, bother! I guess I got to hop to it and shrug off the last vestiges of lazy summer daze - er, I mean days.

Hope You All Had A Wonderful Summer & Stopped to Smell The Roses
...then laughed when tickled by aphids that stuck in your nose