Monday, February 15, 2010

Orchids - Simple, striking and so many images

"If nature ever showed her playfulness in the formation of plants, this is visible in the most striking way among orchids . . . [their flowers] take the form of little birds, of lizards, of insects. They look like a man, a woman, sometimes like an austere, sinister fighter, sometimes like a clown who excites our laughter. They represent the image of a lazy tortoise, a melancholy toad, an agile, ever chattering monkey. Nature has formed orchid flowers in such a way that unless they make us laugh, they surely excite our greatest admiration. The causes of their marvellous variety are (at least in my opinion) hidden by nature under a sacred veil."

From 'Exoticarum Plantarum Centauria Prima' (1678) by Jacob Breyne

I always find it interesting to see how different people describe flowers, how a simple bloom can conjure up so many wonderful images. A flower is not just a flower you see. I love the delicate beauty of orchids hanging on the stem as if floating in air. This orchid featured above is a wild orchid found along the roadsides in Malaysia. During our garden writers trip to Malaysia in 2007, I think our guide and driver thought this group of women were out of their minds. For as we drove along the highway, someone spotted the delicate blooms on the hillsides. "Stop the van" we cried. Our driver pulled over and we all jumped out and scrambled over the barrier and up the steep hills to photograph this natural beauty while the two men simply shook their heads. Oh what a garden writers and photographers will do to get an up close and personal look at nature in all her glory.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where have all the birds gone?

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song."

Chinese Proverb

Today as I look on out a white world - sky, ground and even those white flakes that keep showering down on us I noticed an absence of birds at the feeders outside my window. All of a sudden I realized that I have not seen birds at the feeders for a couple of weeks now. And no birds means no songs or that chitter chatter of the little chickadees, a real absence of natural life.

Winter is usually a time of when I can look out the window and be entertained by the chickadees and yellow finches as they cover the hanging sock finch feeder, jockeying for the best position. Joyfully they flit between the grape arbour and the feeder, filling up on nutritious niger seed. But sadly lately there has been nothing. No sparrows, no chickadees, no yellow finches. And next door at my neighbours - no pigeons, no mourning doves, no blue jays. Where have all the birds gone?

And then at the norticultural meeting last week, many other residents where also complaining that there feeders were also absent of birds, causing us all great concern. Someone mentioned about the canary in the mine example and wondered if this was a symbol of our future and the effects of global warming.

I truly hope that as winter melts into spring, our birds will return bringing joy and entertainment to our lives and embibing that essential life force into the garden.