Monday, June 15, 2020

Tall Spiky Flowers

Here's another new flower that's blooming in our garden at the moment. This is a hybrid foxglove called "Firebird" that I picked up at the supermarket several weeks ago. It's unusual because of its red hues -- foxgloves are usually purple, pink or white. It's apparently a cross with a species of foxglove native to the Canary Islands, and its flowers and leaves both look quite different from our standard foxgloves.

As long as we're talking about tall, pointy flowers, here's our bear's breeches (acanthus). You may remember it bloomed last year for the first time since we rescued it, and it only had one flower spike. Well, this year it's got at least five. So things are looking up for the acanthus.

I spent yesterday mostly reading and doing stuff around the house. I mowed the lawn, which always makes the garden look a million times better.

Dave and I started a new show on Netflix called "Reckoning," a mystery involving a serial killer which looks OK. We're also watching "Snowpiercer," about a dystopian future in which the surviving humans circle the world -- now a frozen wasteland immersed in a new Ice Age -- on an immense, perpetually moving train. It's a weird idea and if it sounds like a comic book, that's because it is -- it's based on a French graphic novel from 1982. I like it so far, and Jennifer Connelly is great as the train's chilly guest-relations coordinator.

Dave got a birthday card from my stepmother in which she sent us a bunch of old pictures. Among them was this note:

I think I wrote that in mid-1973, when my mom, brother and I went to Washington, D.C. to visit my grandparents. I would have been six. Talk about a run-on sentence! I remember my brother falling on the driveway -- I hope Mom sent Dad a more explanatory note, because if he only got mine he must have been alarmed! I have no idea what garden I was talking about. We occasionally planted radish seeds or marigolds and it could have been something like that. Anyway, Dave and I got a kick out of this blast from the past!


  1. I have 3 quite large acanthus plants, but I can only see 5 spikes in all! They are still only in the " bud" stage, so no colour yet. Not sure how they propogate as I noticed another small plant ( about 3/4 leaves) a couple of feet away from one of the others. Seeds or underground creeping?

  2. Tut-tut-tut Stephen, you mis-spelt "stitches". Seriously though, it is an impressive letter for a boy of six - fluent, legible and communicative. Do you still call your brother J.M.?

  3. The note is so cute. Acanthus grow like weeds here, but the leaves often go limp in the summer heat midday.

  4. Frances: I don't know either. We had this one in a different place for a while, and we dug it up and moved it. That apparently left behind bits of root that have now sprouted in the old location -- so in fact we have two acanthuses (acanthi?) now.

    YP: Yes! He's still JM to me, but he's James to the rest of the world.

    Andrew: Ours go limp on hot days as well. It doesn't seem to hurt them, though!

  5. Flower photos, and flowers, are beautiful. What a joy that your step-mother shared that letter. Sorry for all the punctuation in my comment.

  6. Acanthus is the very devil to be rid of!!
    So very architectural in itself, you can understand why its form has been used in 2 and 3D decoration

  7. I don't think I've ever seen that type of foxglove. It's really quite beautiful. That note to your Dad is precious. I have a few like that saved away with old photos. Hopefully, a future generation will appreciate and love them the way I have. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  8. I think that letter showed great promise as to the writer's future abilities! And I love that you were concerned about your garden even if that garden was just marigolds and radishes. It must mean something to you that your dad kept the letter and then your stepmother and now here it is. A sort of magic. A sort of time machine.

  9. What I found charming about the letter that 6-year-old you wrote is that you made a space for your signature, as if you were signing a legal document. Very cute. Hard to believe that that piece of paper is 47 years old. Cripes. The first twenty-seven years were fun, but those last twenty years really zoomed by.

  10. You have some flowers here today that I don't think I've seen before. Very attractive. I love the note. It makes me wish I had something I wrote at that age. It would be fun to read.

  11. That note is priceless. What agem and certainly predicting your blogging skills.
    Acanthus time here also. I love that plant.

  12. That is quite a note to have all these years later. I love how you were already thinking about watering the garden.
    Beautiful flowers there!

  13. Notes from the past bring back a certain reality of what we were really like. Little kids talk in rambling run on sentences. They only stop to take a breath once in awhile.

  14. The note could conjure up an entire novel in the mind of a creative person. Fun to read.

  15. Aw - I love the note! Although at first I thought you were telling your dad to water your garden AND JM. Ha!

  16. I LOVE your note to
    Daddy, the flowers and the run-on sentences - I could read an entire book of run-on sentences and enjoy it tremendously because run-on in is how my brain works and wasn't that how James Joyce tackled Ulysses- such a sweet little note from six yer old Steve

  17. Oh what a sweet blast from the past. I love coming across little notes from my kids around that age. Some things are just meant to be shared later on in life and this is one of those moments in time.

    I love the hybrid foxglove. I think holly hocks and foxgloves rate right up there with great flowers for the garden. I also love snap dragons.

    Have a awesome day! and evening !

  18. I'm with YP on that note - it shows impressive writing skill for a six-year-old. It's lovely to have a bit of one's past like that.

    And you're right about mowing the lawn - it's like a haircut for the garden! Improves things 100%.

  19. A gardener at an early age! I notice that the watering of the garden took precedence over your brother's trip to the hospital news... What lovely plants - and the names! Bear's breeches!

  20. Just a warning, the acanthus likes to spread out.

  21. I was amazed when I first saw acanthus, on a trip to England.
    I'd been studying Classics and had seen loads of it on Roman monuments (as GZ says, it's architectural)---it hadn't occurred to me it was a REAL living plant! Ha.

  22. Loved the cute note (I notice that I am not the only one!) I get a huge kick out of reading my own antique efforts at literary greatness - I was writing stories from a very early age, efforts that my mum preserved and gave to me many years later.

  23. Mitchell: Yeah, I was very glad she sent it to me! And I'm even more impressed my dad saved it all those years.

    GZ: It's a beautiful plant, with those impressive glossy leaves.

    Edna: I'd never seen a foxglove like this one either, and until I read about the hybrid I didn't even know there IS a Canary Island version.

    Ms Moon: It is a time machine! I'm amused that my primary concern was my garden, and, oh yeah, my brother busted his chin open!

    Vivian: I don't know how I knew the style and structure of a letter, except that I'd received them from my grandparents and probably saw my parents write them.

    Sharon: I bet someone has an example of your early writing somewhere!

    Sabine: I remember people at church used to marvel at my vocabulary when I was a little kid. One guy used to ask me about "cumulo-nimbus clouds" because apparently I gave him a lecture on precipitation at some point. LOL

    Robin: I've always been very concerned about plants and water! When I was VERY little (like three) I apparently pitched a fit in the car because I saw plants in the median that were wilted. LOL

    Red: It's true! I guess the ideas come faster than the kids can express them.

    Catalyst: Ha! "The world's shortest novel, written by the world's youngest author." (Actually, there are probably shorter novels and younger authors.)

    Bug: A little water never hurts a little kid!

    Linda Sue: Yeah, but Ulysses is also unreadable, in my humble opinion.

    Beth: I also love flowers that come in a spire. We have some snapdragons blooming now that have lasted a couple of years.

    Jenny-O: It's the one single task that improves the garden most -- if that makes sense.

    Susan: Yeah, I had my priorities! LOL

    Colette: Yeah, we've seen that already. But that's fine. It's in a place where it can spread.

    Fresca: I always thought it was a mythological plant. I never realized it was a real thing!

    David: I have some of my early stories too. They can be pretty embarrassing. Ugh!