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Wildflower and Moon Magic
by Jeanne I. Graybeal-Thrane, RL
November 12, 1999

"Men come to build stately sooner than they learn to garden finely, as if gardening were the greater perfection". Francis Bacon, On Gardens, 1620

  The Aspen trees' wooly gray catkins have burst from knobby buds over the week-end, and the wild bush honeysuckle leaves are unfolding. By next week, the honeysuckle will be in bloom. What a marvelous thing it is to watch each plant respond to Spring's "rebirth", with its own timing. And it is good to know these sequences...

A well-known professor of Landscape Architecture used to drive us to despair by increasing the range of subjects in his classes so that we would study feverishly for exams on all the various facets of design principles - line, form, volume, scale, mass and rhythm, all the botanic and common names of plants plus their horticultural requirements, all of the natural earth processes contributing to the shape of the land,the geomorphology. Then, on exam day, he would only ask a couple of seemingly simple questions that tied it all up together and forced one to think in an integrated fashion. Such as:......1) Name the phases of the moon, its effect on the earth, and its current phase, and 2) Name the plants that are blooming now. Drove us nuts - but his message was clear: Observe and interrelate the knowledge you are gaining, with the reality of the present in each days' magical happenings.

Watching Spring "happen" brings such pleasures; each country has its own special favorites. In Denmark, it is being the the great Beech forests, just as they unfold their light, lacy, pleated green leaves while the ground beneath them is carpeted in white anemones. For me, at home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, it is the earliest crocus, and the daffodils. And in our woods, later, our own wild anemones in lavendar-blue under the giant layered buds of the Shagbark Hickories. What matchless pleasure to find Jack-in-th-Pulpits coming up again and to see the millions of tiny blue flowers of the native "groundworts", that hug the earth and spread everywhere

So many specialty nurseries have "cropped up" too. One can buy almost any kind of native wildflower, both plants and seeds, from them....even Lady Slippers and Trout Lilies. Or, you can enter into the fun world of seed-savers and trading (I love this!) for starts and seed. Who knows; one day the wildflowers you have planted may be the only ones left at which to marvel, and the Moon's Magic will still act upon them and it will be Spring again........

(excerpt from To Garden Finely soon to be published in the US)

Jeanne I. Graybeal-Thrane, RLA Landscape Architect

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