Sunday, August 05, 2007

Husband and I have been discussing the circumstances which led to my father's wounding at Cambrai, on the 11th of October, 1918.

I am putting away the file which contains an account of that particular battle, along with my father's military records, when my eye is caught by a small faded book on the next shelf up.

It has survived the general dissolution of the library which we downsized when we moved, mainly because of great sentimentality. It was among the few books we have that belonged to Husband's mother , and contains within its pages some of the poetic clippings which she saved during the war years, when her three sons were Overseas.

It is many years since I took the book in hand, and this afternoon I have been re-discovering its treasures.

The book, - well, really the April 1936 issue of "An Intimate Magazine for Garden Lovers", edited by Theo. A. Stephens of London, England, is enchanting in many ways. Just the era during which it was produced is enough to beguile me. Those simpler years, when hard times produced an appreciation for the basics of life, and joy could be found and engendered in small things and cherished relationships. The English are such ardent garden lovers, and I hope this venture of Theo. A. Stephens was a success. Seventy years later it is still bringing pleasure and information to those who read its pages.

One of the plants which traveled with us from the Lost Garden, - unbidden, but welcome in small doses, was the Chinese Lantern. A plant of fiendish invasive ways, but a delight in the autumn garden as the brilliant orange lanterns herald the close of the season and cry to be picked and dried for a prolonged life amongst the other dried grasses and blooms.

F.C.L.S. (Devon) has a little page about the Chinese Lantern, but it is entitled "Physalis" and reads in part:

"What do you call it, Physalis - how do you spell it? The querist was a man, just a mere man, and perhaps I should not have expected him to know what it was though I believe he is a gardener - of sorts. We were looking at a very large bunch of Physalis Franchetii which had been cut and dried last year and had now been put aside for spring greenery......... anyone who has a love for honesty with its satiny seed covers must also love the glowing orange lanterns that hang on the long stems of physalis."

With that I could agree, but then she (for she must be a SHE, judging by her snide remark of the gardener-of sorts) remarks that the plant may be considered rather rampant in its habits. Ah, there's the rub - it comes up in the midst of Iris, through the centre of peony bushes, amongst and around the white Phlox, even in the middle of the raspberry patch - anywhere the speedily traveling roots will take it. And I must tell you that it can appear right on the other side of the garden, with no hint of its presence in between that and its source. Rather rampant is a kind understatement!

However, F.C.L.S. goes on to comment that the green leaves of physalis are pushing up amongst her oriental poppies, but that "it will perhaps be rather nice to think that when the poppies have died down the glowing lanterns of physalis will be swinging over them as they sleep."

A nice and redeeming thought.

There are pages and pages of lovingly written stories about cherished gardens and plants, and I will be off now to spend a little time before supper losing myself amongst the article on "Choise Flower of Delight" (the violet) by Mrs. Stanley Wrench.

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