Garden fare


I like historical fiction, and I've come to find that the natural world features heavily in the shows that stick best in my mind. (Maybe because of the unexpected connections that tend to happen in that world.) Nature certainly features in this series I'm stuck on now, from the manmade strictures in greenhouses and manicured lawns to the untamed world outside the characters' usual borders. Tonight's show featured thistles, a flower which the title character's brother-in-law disparaged in an earlier episode. I remembered thistles had a range of uses, but wasn't sure about the particulars, so I looked them up. And snorted when I saw the preview for tonight's show. Thistles aren't the kind of flower commonly associated with a young woman from a sheltered existence, but the character wears them quite prominently in this episode, once she comes to appreciate the land it's part of. That got me thinking - where I was born and how many X's I'm built with don't define how I choose my flowers, and why should they? For that matter, why should my origins or my physical makeup define what makes me laugh or makes me think, or change what I admire or emulate? But I digress. The point of this post is an exploration of flowers, because of course there's a language for those as well. Got curious thanks to the neighbor (really, thanks to the neighbor) who got me the book. Marigold - definition: despair, grief, envy in floriography (gosh! so! sunny! and! yet! so! negative!). Petals make an edible salad garnish or vinegar additive. Blooms attract beneficial insects, roots repel soil pests. They're a little sharp on the tongue flavor-wise, if I remember correctly. Nasturtium - definition: patriotism (really?) in floriography. Another plant that bears edible flowers, attracts beneficials, and repels soil pests. Apparently, seed pods can be pickled and used in place of capers. (Tried them raw. ...They're probably better pickled.) Rose - definition: the floriography equivalent of the English word "run." In this case, I'm not talking about the fancy stuff that undergoes an enormous price markup once the salesman finds out they're for a wedding. I mean the simple kind, with five-petaled flowers that come in shades of pink (not neon, phew) and white. The kind that makes for good eating and natural barbed wire. Rosa canina, also known as the dog rose. Definition: Pleasure and pain. Has big hips, which are high in vitamin C. If my research is accurate, rosehips were used as a source of that nutrient, a substitute for citrus fruits inaccessible due to boys with big buttons making things go boom in WWII. If all rosehips are like the one I tried, they're sweet and tart, a cross between a cranberry and a persimmon to my taste. Watch out for the fuzzy bits in the middle. Apparently, they can be used as itching powder, and they're more than a little sharp on the tongue. Ow. Rosa rugosa, also known as Japan rose, beach rose, or salt rose (Em Am D B7). Definition: beauty is your only attraction (which is bull when it comes to this flower). Withstands difficult environments (sandy beaches and salt spray are less than ideal growing conditions), and is another producer of large red hips. Thistle - definition: austerity and intrusion (prickly things, they are). Almost entirely edible plant (which is one reason why it's a recent addition to my favorites list, even though I've found two videos now that compare its flavor to celery). Down (fluff, not direction) is useful as a firestarter, inner bark can be processed into paper. Tough, useful, and pretty without being neon eyebleed fuchsia. Symbol of Scotland, it turns out.

And before I forget - no matter how much I like these flowers, armored umbrella beats bouquet every time.

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