Saturday, May 4, 2013
If it is ancient, if it is obscure, weird, uncommon and hard to find.... in my long long years as a gardener, I've grown it. I feel most attached to the human race when I think of people thousands of years ago seeing, growing and loving a plant I have in my yard.
Green flowers, black flowers, stripes, dots, black leaves, variegated leaves, black tomatoes, white tomatoes, crazy beans and beanstalks.......it's what I love.
One of my favorite heirloom flowers is the Poet's narcissus.....‘Actaea’ is an heirloom beloved for its large and fragrant flowers that open at about the same time as lilacs. The first written description of this narcissus was about 300BC. The poet Virgil wrote about a narcissus with white single petals and an orange eye.....the Narcissus poeticus. Native to Europe, where it has naturalized it is a breathtaking sight. It is very fragrant, and has medicinal uses that are very well known from ancient times.
Narcissus flowers are named for the son of the River God, Cephissus, and mother, Leiriope, a nymph, in Greek mythology.........This boy Narcissus was quite the looker.. according to legend. A prophet told Leiriope her son would live long and prosper if he avoided ever seeing himself in a reflection.
The pretty boy had many women and men (this is a Greek legend) fall in love with him as he grew up into a man, but he chose none of them for a lover.
A nymph, Echo, loved Narcissus, but she had her own curse to deal because the goddess Hera made poor Echo repeat again the last words she heard said to her....... But Narcissus did not have eyes for her!
Ameinias, another hopeful lover was also rejected by the handsome Narcissus, and Ameinias killed himself. Just before taking his life he asked for the gods to punish Narcissus.
The gods then set Narcissus to gaze on his loveliness in a clear pond......He fell in love with himself....he was so darn pretty!
When he leaned over to touch the beautiful image of himself, he fell in and drowned......or he killed himself also....we're not too clear on that.
The gods thought the tragedy (this is a Greek legend) ought to be commemorated......and so named the lovely yellow late winter flower.......Narcissus.