Elizabeth von Armin’s stories continue to enthrall me — indeed, enchant me — each time I read them. Born Marie Annette Beauchamp, the author entwines her readers with romantic gardens the way climbing wisteria wraps its tendrils around pine trees, never to let go. Rather fanciful talk to describe how I am left feeling of hardly being able to bear their beauty. Moreover, she introduces me to plants I’ve not heard of.
From Elizabeth and Her German Garden, for example, here is a list of six European wildflower plants:
- whortleberry : a low-growing, erect, Eurasian shrub (Vaccinium myrtillus) having blue or bluish-black fruits that resemble blueberries but are borne singly rather than in clusters; the sweet, edible fruit of the bilberry used especially in pies and jams.
NOTE: Both the plant and its fruit are also called whortleberry and (chiefly Scottish) blaeberry.
(2) hepaticas: a plant of the buttercup family, native to hardwood forests of Europe, with flowers similar to those of the anemone, native to northern temperate regions.
3. celandines: a characteristic spring flower of woodlands, hedgerows, graveyards and parks where its shiny flowers can carpet wide areas with gold between March and May.
4. ipomoea: wild Morning Glory vines featuring blooms of pink, lavender and purple or blue which open each morning and fade at night.
5. Dwarf Mignonette: “Little Darling” ~ Any of several Mediterranean plants of the genus Reseda, especially R. odorata, widely cultivated for its dense racemes of small fragrant greenish flowers; grows about one foot.
According to a French fairy tale, “mignonette” was so named by a young girl who was bewailing her homely appearance. A fairy appeared in the form of an old woman and asked the girl why she was crying. The girl told her that she longed to be beautiful so everyone would love her, and the fairy replied, “If you will do just as I tell you for one year, your wish will be granted. Go out into the world, and never let an hour pass without doing something to make someone happier, and do not look into a mirror until I come again.” When the fairy disappeared, she left a little mignonette plant in a flowerpot. The girl exclaimed, “Oh! The little darling!” and tended to it carefully. She did as the fairy told her and became so interested in helping people that she didn’t even think to look in a mirror. A year passed quickly, and when the fairy returned, she held up a mirror, saying, “Look.” The girl was amazed when she saw her reflection. Her eyes, once dim with crying, were bright and clear, her cheeks were rosy, and the whole expression of her face was changed. Then, the fairy said to her, “You have filled your heart with such beautiful thoughts and your life with such beautiful deeds that a beautiful soul shines in your face. Your wish is granted, and like the flower I left, you will create a sweet atmosphere about you wherever you go.” ~ from Mother Earth Gardner
6. cowslip: a common European primrose (Primula veris) with clusters of fragrant, drooping yellow flowers. Like many other spring flowers, the cowslip is closely associated with English folklore and tradition, including adorning garlands for May Day and being strewn on church paths for weddings.
I leave you with this quote from Beauchamp a/k/a von Armin:
“If Eve had had a spade in Paradise and known what to do with it, we should not have had all that sad business of the apple.”
3 thoughts on “Six on Saturday”
What wonderful flowers Jo – I liked them all!
Love the mignonette tale. I’m having trouble getting mine to germinate this year 😦 We do have celandine and hepaticas as wildflowers here in Indiana, and I had a lot of cowslips at the herb farm, but failed to move any with me…sigh! They are not too hard from seed, so maybe I will give them a go next year. Keep thinking I will read the Elizabeth book, but haven’t yet. Will put it on my list for winter!
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Lovvely spring images and just lived the french fairytale.
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