Flower Storytime

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Welcome to Flower Storytime.

I will show you  some Oregon wildflowers while everyone gets seated around the digital rug.

Here is the first Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum) to bloom this year in my rainy spring garden. It grows at the east end of the greenhouse and is very brave. (Another windy rainstorm today.)

Western Trillium

Here is the Spring Queen (Synthyris reniformis), a delicate little very early flower. It grows surrounded by Baby Tears plants in a homemade tufa pot.

Spring Queen

Now I will tell you the flower story, because you might be reading this at bedtime or naptime but mostly because I just want to tell you this story.

Once upon a time I was little and my parents built their All Electric Home next to a woods. In the woods grew a wildflower we called Spring Beauties. In about April I would pick bouquets of these delicate little flowers and bring them to my mother and she would appear to be thrilled and put them in a nice vase and make a big deal about them which is what you do if you’re a mom and want your kids to feel good.

About four or five years ago I discovered native Oregon plants in some local nurseries and I started collecting them in my gardens.  I never found for sale the Spring Beauties like I used to pick for my mommy (who I expect watches my efforts with interest from what the nineteenth century spiritualists called “the Summerland”) although I found other plants of the same name.

Then, since I live a wholesome and somewhat honest but mostly fun life, the Earth Goddess grew some of MY Spring Beauties in a neighbor’s horse pasture so some very sensitive and thoughtful birds or the wind or magic brought seeds to my woodland garden area where I was delighted to find them growing, and last year I managed to move one of these perennials into a bed near the house, and here it is blooming today.

Spring Beauty

And this, oddly, brings the story to the subject of old books. I love old books, and in my 1921 copy of a little book called A Spring Flora of Northwestern Oregon, by Helen M. Gilkey, I finally found my Spring Beauty listed.

A Spring Flora of Northwestern Oregon by Helen M. Gilkey

Ms. Gilkey, in 1921,  called my flower Dentaria tenella, or Small toothwort. It seems, looking online, that it is now named Cardamine nuttallii or a bunch of variations on that or, in the familiar:  Oaks Toothwort, Nutall’s Toothwort, Slender Toothwort or Spring Beauty. (Just for you Mom.)

Wasn’t that a nice story?

Now go to sleep.

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About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Pacific Northwest native plants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Flower Storytime

  1. Roberta says:

    What a sweet story! I hope there is no part two with a twist wherein you have to clip it back. The horror, the horror!

  2. Very wonderful! I love it when nature produces something that is much more worth cherishing than what all the hybridizers of the world can concoct.

    • linniew says:

      Well said. One might think you shared Hamlet’s DNA or something Søren. 😉

      • I’m quite sure Hamlet’s bloodline became extinct by the end of the play, given that people drop like flies in its last minutes: Laertes, Claudio, Gertrude, Hamlet, all in a very short time. I suspect Shakespeare felt like going out for a drink and just wanted to be done with writing that pesky play, so he killed off all the main characters in one fell swoop. 😉

  3. Grace says:

    I’ve always heard it called “Spring Beauty” so the “Toothwort” moniker seems, well, strange. It must have been good for tooth aches at some point in history. I’m glad we have dentists now and can preserve the flower for our visual fancies. We have it growing on the side of the road nearby. It’s a forested area and would you believe my daughter used to pick it for me? I would feign elation and plop it into a vase and set it on the table and admire it until it had achieved its purpose, creating a timeworn, priceless memory.

    Speaking of timeworn, I love that you own Ms. Gilkey’s book. What a treasure it must be!

    Your trillium does seem like a brave soul, poking its shy head up, despite the inhospitable weather. Your Synthyris is new to me. It looks like a diminutive (read: faerie) Bergenia with a bit of Heuchera DNA. Very nice.

    I heard on the news last night that we might set records for “the rainiest March.” No surprise there. Stay dry. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Toothwort sounds terrible. We should cling to Spring Beauty.
      I love that your daughter picked you bouquets–Someday you must bring her the plant in a pot for her garden!

      Terrible wind and rain here tonight Gracie and I know it will be at your house too. Good writing weather I think…

  4. Greggo says:

    My story about my mom would be about four o’clocks, and collecting their seeds. Thanks for your memories, as they brought back some memories of my own. ; )

  5. Kate says:

    You wished for it, and it appeared. All the best stories have a bit of magic. So do the best gardens.

  6. Holleygarden says:

    Wonderful story! I’m so glad the dragon got slain, the princess was kissed – oh, wait! That’s a different story. I meant – I’m so glad your little flower made it through the evil kingdom to your enchanted garden, where it will live happily every after! 🙂 Suddenly, I feel sleepy…

  7. what a sweet story! love it!!

  8. Scott Weber says:

    So cool you found your childhood plant (or, that it found you!).

  9. Roberta says:

    Scott left a wonderful comment. Maybe this entire time your Spring Beauties were looking for you! You were meant for each other it seems. Sweet destiny.

  10. Fay says:

    That was a lovely story – thank you Linnew! I think your garden must be a sanctuary known to those flower faeries that spread the word to the little flowers that find their way to you.

    A magical realm indeed. Gorgeous pictures. Still depths of winter here no flower with any common sense would have its nose out yet. I see your roses brought snow – how unusual indeed – one would have hoped they would have brought sunshine.

    Peedie is wondering about relocation to your kingdom. A puppy which looks like a hedgehog (Do you have hedgehogs in your realm?) (Haggis) followed us home and now his (Peedie’s) back pack is packed and awaiting your instructions. Does Max allow visitors?

    If so can he come visit your realm.

    PS Don’t get a not-supposed-to-full-time- job – it terrifically interferes with both blogging and catching up on other blogs. I’m renegotiating my contract to include a blog-hour.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Fay! I wish so much that we had hedgehogs but no. (I’ve heard people here have them as pets, but I’ve not met one.) Poor Peedie, a big adjustment but I know he is up to the task. That little hedgehog-like puppy is beyond adorable (I totally get how you couldn’t resist him!), but I’m sure he is annoyingly unsophisticated from Peedie’s perspective, plus he takes a piece of the action in terms of attention. I hope the period of adjustment passes soon and Peedie welcomes Haggis into the club.

      So nice to hear from you, and I just had the best time reading all the recent posts on your wonderful blog. Life carries us along like Dorothy in the tornado. Yes get that blog-hour written into your contract. I’m self-employed so I will be writing it into mine too. xo L

  11. Roberta says:

    I had never heard of Spring Beauties until your post, then, this morning, I was visiting the Garden Rant blog and in their sidebar is a thumbnail captioned Spring Beauty!

    • linniew says:

      I checked it out ‘berta– The image is definitely not my flower, and I can’t seem to find it following the link. I think it is a cunning trick of some sort, but still I appreciate the possibilities!

  12. Such a lovely story. Sigh. The photos are beautiful too. Tell us another? Pleeeease?

    Your digital rug is beautiful– is it new?

    • linniew says:

      Hiya Moonbeam!
      [Hey everyone visit Moonbeam’s blog today for a post that is a 9 on the Richter scale for humor.]
      The rug is new from Goodwill and has a tiny bit of Max dog-hair on it — that’s why I had to make the story so fascinating so you wouldn’t notice that I didn’t get out the vacuum first…

  13. b-a-g says:

    Linnie – I enjoyed your nostalgic & heart-warming story. A love of gardening was the best gift that my Mum gave to me. I didn’t realise that at the time though, I would have much rather made a tufa pot. Maybe you could give us a lesson ?

    • linniew says:

      As it happens b-a-g, long long ago in a garden far away (ok I made up the far away part) I did write about tufa pots in this early post. They are messy but easy to make, have lasted well and get mossier and more natural looking every year. I wish I’d made more of them.

      Glad you liked my remembering. I bet you have some stories like that too.

  14. kininvie says:

    Hi Linnie,

    I assume the snow has gone? That’s a very useful flower you have there. It fills a lot of march/April gaps for me, but it is inclined to disappear without giving any reason. The toothwort I know is something different – it’s parasitic on willow roots. I’ve seen it in France, and it’s very weird, because it just sticks its flowers out of the ground with no leaves or anything. Very pretty, but like most parasitic plants, almost impossible to establish in a garden.

    • linniew says:

      Snow is quite gone, replaced by rain I’m afraid. All week, every day–I really must get started on the ark.

      My book says the Spring Beauty grows from a tuberous rootstock, which I may investigate when my planting looks more substantial.

      • kininvie says:

        And, BTW, I am just so envious of your trilliums. I wish I could establish them – but I can’t. They just disappear whenever I try. OTOH I have neeps. I was fully expecting Fay to call her puppy Neep. But she didn’t.

        • linniew says:

          Glad you are envious of the trilliums to balance how I feel about your blue poppies. But, you don’t actually grow neeps do you?
          I thought Haggis was a pretty good name for the puppy, although I don’t really know about haggis because you won’t talk about it. Something a little bit Scottish though I gather–

  15. Alberto says:

    I think this is a very very sweet stories of yours. Even though the real seeds might have been carried by bird’s crap but these are nothing but details.
    It seems that finally your garden is starting to feel the new season and I’m very glad as we may hope you will write more about your garden than space trips…. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Please don’t think you must use delicate language here Alberto…

      Yes I will be trying to stay on Earth and write perfectly reasonable and practical things. Or maybe not.

      • kininvie says:

        I’m all for reasonable and practical. I think you are hard on Alberto. How can you expect him to be delicate in a second language? I bet you don’t know the Italian for crap anyway…..

        • linniew says:

          Well Kininvie don’t hold your breath on the reasonable and practical here. As to Alberto, he is more delicate in English than many people born to it and beyond that he learns quickly so I keep my expectations high. I’ll confess in my brutal semi-honesty that I did seek to find the Italian word for “crap” online but I was led to some sites of very questionable character where I was not comfortable and I bolted–however I feel certain YOU know the translation and that is cheering to me in a peculiar incomprehensible fashion that has something to do with that nice photo you posted of Sicilian jasmine.

  16. Alistair says:

    But, I just got up, can I really go back. OK, I will dream of your sweet story. Love your tuffa pots, think I will take a look again later and perhaps get a little artistic.

    • linniew says:

      Of course you can go back to sleep Alistair. But if it’s not raining or snowing you might want to poke around outside first and just remember the story later at nap time.

      I have no doubt you could make amazing tufa pots. The hardest part is finding something to use as a mold to shape them. I expect you have some big plastic pots around. I used nursery pots that came with trees we bought– Oh you almost inspire me to make more, they are so fun to plant and to position in the beds.

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