. . .the whole western gardens of Everley were visible under the moonlight: their precise graveled geometries, their intricate plantings and efflorescences, their trimmed trees, all of Rodgers’s and Ponsonby’s many hours of mutual work. As Lenox gazed upon it he thought at once of how frivolous these country-house gardens could seem and how noble, what an achievement of man.
–Charles Finch, A Death in the Small Hours
In this detective novel, the main character, Charles Lenox, voices a thought that has probably occurred to most gardeners at one time or another. On one hand, my tasks in the garden are quite humble: digging in the dirt, pulling out weeds, spreading manure, sprinkling water. On the other, my garden sometimes strikes me as my best work of art, especially this year as the plantings move into a more mature stage.
In symbolic terms, the garden is used as a reference to the Garden of Eden: an earthly paradise created by God as a safe and enclosed place. Gardens may symbolize innocence; or the soul and the qualities cultivated within it.
And flowers are symbols of love, but because they fade and die quite quickly, they are also a reminder of the transitory nature of the material world. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s little prince says of his beloved rose: it is “ephemeral, which means ‘in danger of speedy disappearance’.” (The Little Prince)
I’ve completed several drawings recently and wanted to turn some of them into paintings. One of them was the perfect size for a 23 x 31 cm Aquarelle Arches Watercolor Block which would get me painting quickly, as I would not have to do any preparation of the watercolour paper. But when I opened the cover page of the block, I saw that the top sheet already had a drawing transferred onto it, of a Welsh Poppy (Meconopsis cambrica). I made the drawing nearly two years ago, when I was babysitting for one of my grandsons, then about 2-1/2 years old. He was sleeping and I used this peaceful interval to slip out into the garden, cut a few Welsh Poppies and put them into water in a glass. I had time enough to complete a careful drawing of the poppies. I don’t have any of these poppies in my own garden, although I’ve tried to get them started a number of times. I’m trying again this year, keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that the seeds will germinate and the resulting plants will thrive.
In another post, I wrote about the Tibetan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia). Apparently, a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2011 showed that M. cambrica is not related to other species of Meconopsis, but is instead nested within Papaver (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meconopsis_cambrica.)