Sunday, 3 August 2014

Primulas and Hellebores

"Primula Victoriana 'Silver Lace Black'", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


"Helleborus 'Onyx Odyssey'", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Today I am featuring two flower drawings.  Why?  First, because Primroses (Primula) are so well known to most people since they appear in summer gardens everywhere and really should not need that much of an introduction.  Second, Hellebores (Helleborus) have been featured previously in my blog (see postings for December 27, 2011 and August 18, 2012) and, thus, should need little additional commentary.  I will comment just a bit, however, on both.

SILVER-LACED BLACK PRIMROSE:  Silver and gold-laced Primroses have been grown in gardens for centuries. This strain produces blooms of deep purple-black with a scalloped silver-white edge and a golden eye. Blooms are fragrant with stems just long enough for cutting, appearing in spring.  This type of primrose can also be found in various shades of red with both silver and gold edging around the flowers.
  
The full botanical name of the flowers in the first drawing is Primula x polyanthus 'Victoriana Silver Lace Black' of the family Primulaceae. "Primrose" is ultimately from Old French primerose or medieval Latin prima rosa, meaning "first rose" although it is not closely related to the rose family. The term polyanthus or polyantha refers to various tall-stemmed and multicoloured strains of hybrids. 

The common, non-hybrid primrose (Primula vulgaris) is native to, and originally was found growing wild in, western and southern Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia.

HELLEBORE 'ONYX ODYSSEY':  Hellebores are one of the floral harbingers of spring, blooming for six weeks or more beginning in late winter. They are often flowering during the Christian season of Lent from which they get their common name, Lenten Rose.

For centuries Hellebores have been used for various medical purposes, and all contain alkaloids and other chemicals that could lead to poisoning if ingested in large quantities. Hellebores are even mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman literature. They have also been cultivated in western Europe and can be found naturalized around ruins of old monasteries and other structures. Extracts from hellebores have been used in homoeopathy and traditional medicines over the centuries. 

The full botanical name of the flower in the drawing above is  Helleborus x hybridus 'Onyx Odyssey' of the family Ranunculaceae.  Onyx Odyssey is a cultivar and is a "member" of a trademarked series known as "Winter Jewels". In the information I found on the Internet regarding this series, there was the following statement: "Marietta O'Byrne, of Eugene, Oregon, ... has spent over 15 years pursuing her passion for hellebores, meticulously selecting and hand-crossing only the best stock plants which she has gathered from around the world."

Helleborus is believed to come from the Greek ‘ellos/hellos’ meaning ‘fawn’ and ‘bora’ meaning ‘food’ -- thus, food for a fawn. An alternative possibility is that the first syllable is from 'hele' meaning ‘to take away’ thus, take way food. This could quite possibly refer to the emetic nature of the plant which, if consumed in even small quantities, would certainly take away your food!


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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki enjoying the morning sunlight
I never cease to be amazed at how clever Suki is at devising new ways to try to awaken me when she thinks it is time for her to have breakfast! Last night, she amazed me once again.

There I was, sleeping soundly, when I was suddenly startled awake by this loud jangling sound.  At first I could not imagine what on earth could be happening.  My sleep-befuddled brain was trying its best to figure out what was causing this strange sound and simply couldn't.

Then the sound changed and I heard things clattering to the hardwood floor.  This loud noise was followed by more clangs and bangs.  I knew it had to be Suki making the noise, but I simply could not figure out what she was doing to cause it.  Then, finally, in a flash, I understood what she was doing and exactly what had caused the strange noises.  

Somehow she had managed to stand on her hind legs, reaching up quite a distance in order to grab a string of wooden parrots perched on metal circles which I keep hanging in the living room (see photo to the right).  
Wooden Parrots -- Wall Hanging
These parrots were a gift from the young son of a home care worker who once had help take care of me years ago.  She was from the Philippines originally and once, while the entire family had been visiting there, this son, Darwin, had suggested that she purchase the item and bring it to me as a gift. This home care worker had three delightful young sons and I used to send them little gifts whenever I came across something in threes that I thought they might all enjoy.  Sadly, this particular son, the one who had suggested getting the parrots for me, died a few years later of cancer at age 7 1/2 -- so this gift became even more special to me and I have always treated it with great care.

How on earth Suki managed to reach the wall hanging I cannot imagine as I had placed it at a height which I was sure was beyond her reach.  But somehow, arthritic joints and all, she had managed to grab onto it from the back of the sofa.  After some rather violent tugging (the jangling sound that first awakened me), she had managed to pull it off the wall and onto the hardwood floor (the loud clattering sound I had heard)!

Once I realized what was going on, I began yelling and painfully pulling myself up out of bed.  Once Suki realized that I was awake and in the process of getting up, the clattering noises ceased. Instead, I could now hear Suki's plaintive meows -- the kind she uses when she is begging to be fed! Of course, I paid no attention to her meows but begin immediately to search for the wall hanging parrots.  Once I found them, I checked each one carefully and, thankfully, was able to determine that none were damaged.

At this point, I begin giving Suki a good lecture about her bad behaviour including several negative comments about her ancestry --- the sort of comments I can't post in a "family" blog -- if you know what I mean!  Suki, as usual, paid little attention to my remarks but instead just kept trying to push me towards the kitchen.  Finally I gave in and fed the silly cat -- it was already 6 a.m. I normally get up about 5:30 so, in spite of all her shenanigans, I had gotten an extra half hour of sleep!

Now, I have to decide where on earth I am going to hang the parrots so that there will never again be the possibility that Suki can find a way to reach them!

Other than events such as this one, Suki and I have had a very quiet week.  I must say that I have greatly enjoyed these past weeks which have been free of appointments of any kind. My life is always more pleasant now when I don't have to endure the painful process of going out.

However, I do have a medical appointment this coming week -- nothing of import, just a follow-up with more blood work.  I will let you know if anything of interest occurs, but I really don't expect that it will be anything other than routine.


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18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 


"Icon of St. John the Baptist", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010

"When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them..." Matt. 14: 13-14a

May we be able to set aside our own agendas on occasion in the week ahead and allow our hearts be "moved with pity" for the needs of others 
...and...
May peace be with you all. Amen.

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