“London Pride has been handed down to us…” the old song says. I wonder if that is so with our perception of what has beauty and/or value in the garden? I love blue flowers like the cyanosis here, irises, forget-me-nots… I remember bringing a gorgeous little blue flowering plant home to mammy once. I’d found it in the park growing amongst the grass. ‘Can we plant it?’ I asked.
‘That’s speedwell,’ she said. ‘That’s a weed. It takes over.’
But she planted it anyway to please me and kept an eye on it and it didn’t take over, ever. I have some shamrock from my mother’s garden in a tub with black grass. They seem happy together. Shamrock is a trifoliium. Trifolia are basically all the same family as clover. People say it doesn’t grow outside Ireland. It does! Most people throw it out when it dies back in its pot – that why they can’t grow it. And they expect to see it way too early in March! It likes well drained places like crazy paving and rockeries but mine is happy because the grass takes up some of the water. Thyme is so wonderful now. It spreads too but culinary herbs can spread all they like and we don’t mind a bit. Nor do we mind if these cheeky little faces reseed themselves all over the place.
I am not a good gardener by any means and I have very little space. Much of what I grow has to survive in pots but now and then I show willing and get out there.
I was pulling up loads of Ragged Robin with ease the other day, unseating White Nettles with the hoe and scraping out Lady’s Mantle. Then I replanted a Foxglove that was growing in the wrong place (my husband loves foxgloves) and I noticed my Honesty was coming up at long last. Seemed an age since I’d scattered those few seeds that I’d taken from the churchyard last autumn. I used to have some honesty in the past but it died out. Is there a message there? My mother would have pulled up the Foxglove and left the Lady’s Mantle to spread. I give you:
Rampant by habit
ragged robin spiders
through the London Pride
and yet not quite
its slightly pinker pink
flowers I discover
no deep root tendrils
its precarious hold on life.
I pull it up casually
a discarded weed
elitist in my estimate of beauty.
© 2012 Oonah V Joslin