Sunday, January 25, 2009

Star of Bethlehem

These are Star of Bethlehem flowers from my yard last year. They're a highly invasive bulb and considered a noxious weed. They redeem themselves by these lovely, delicate flowers (I'm partial to whites.) and by the fact they are the first, no exceptions, to break ground in the spring--if you're generous enough to consider the lengthening days as the first signs of spring. For just after that change, these little flowers begin to appear as green and sturdy shoots.

The photograph below was taken a couple of days ago when temperatures were far below freezing. As you can see, they've been up and growing for quite a while. They have a waxy cuticle, which (I suppose) helps them endure the cold. They also have fleshy leaves, which (I suppose) helps them endure the dryness of frozen ground. They're bulbs so, of course, they don't need to worry too much about food at first.

They must be tough as nails because that ground they broke through was hard and solid as ice. I've bruised a toe trying to kick clods free of it.
I'm always fascinated by a plant with a lot of common names. It indicates to me the plant has history, is a part of culture, at least of gardening culture. This one has some doozies; Nap at Noon, Snowdrop, Dove's Dung, Eleven o'Clock Lady, and the best one, Sleepy Dick. I've known it as Star of Bethlehem, but these other names are better descriptive of its appearance and habits.

If you follow the link I provided above, you'll find all kinds of nasty comments about these weeds. They're quite despised. At Rivergarth, however, there's plenty of space, the beds not perfectly groomed, and I don't have a proper lawn. There's wiggle room for a few weeds.

Considering their early companionship in late winter at that time when I'm desperate for the signs of spring and their promises of bloom, I'm willing to share my space with them.

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