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Wading Barelegged

I soon learned that rare and beautiful plants can only be found in places that are difficult of access…. Often one has to shove one’s self through or wriggle under briars, with awkward results to clothing and many and deep cuts and scratches…. Wading, usually barelegged, through countless rattlesnake-infested swamps adds immensely to the interest of the day’s work…. On several occasions I have been so deeply mired I had to be pulled out.

Mary Gibson Henry, 1884–1967

Plantswoman Extraordinaire


The melancholy days have come,
the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods,
and meadows brown and sear.

William Cullen Bryant, “The Death of the Flowers,” 1880

The Scent of Bees

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity, 1990

Me and Tom had that…

Huck Finn:

Don’t you know what that is? It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want–oh, you don’t quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! It seems to you that mainly what you want is to get away; get away from the same old tedious things you’re so used to seeing and so tired of, and set something new. That is the idea; you want to go and be a wanderer; you want to go wandering far away to strange countries where everything is mysterious and wonderful and romantic. And if you can’t do that, you’ll put up with considerable less; you’ll go anywhere you CAN go, just so as to get away, and be thankful of the chance, too.

Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective, 1896

Those who would see wonderful things must often be ready to travel alone.

The shiver that runs through the earth ere she rouses from her night sleep had already begun, and the cool wind that heralds the daybreak was drawing downward from the lofty, snow-traced ravines of Mount Orontes. Birds, half-awakened, crept and chirped among the rustling leaves, and the smell of ripened grapes came in brief wafts from the arbors.[…]Far over the eastern plain a white mist stretched like a lake.

The Other Wise Man,” Henry van Dyke, 1896

Giving Thanks

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, for hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see;
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

“We Thank Thee,”
Author Unknown

A Stolen Pleasure

Friends who don’t garden can’t accept the idea that I am enjoying myself when I’m weeding. The myth that it’s drudgery, an unpleasant chore, is too much with us. Truth be told, weeding is a stolen pleasure, time all to myself. The monotonous rhythm of repeated action allows my mind to wander—my imagination unclogs, and the frustrations of daily life are washed away with the glow of perspiration.

Suzy Bales, “The Delights of Weeding”
The Gardener’s Bedside Reader, 2008

Yards of Trailing Stems

Mr. E. went up a mountain near and brought me down some grand trailing specimens of the largest of all pitcher-plants, which I festooned round the balcony by its yards of trailing stems. I painted a portrait of the largest, and my picture afterwards induced Mr. Veitch to send a traveller to seek the seeds, from which he raised plants and Sir Joseph Hooker named the species Nepenthes northiana. These pitchers are often over a foot long, and richly covered with crimson blotches. Then I said good-bye to Mr. E. and returned to the Rajah’s at Kuching.

Marianne North, botanical artist and explorer, in Sarawak, 1876
Recollections of a Happy Life, 1893

Sweet Hiccory Milk

I observed, in the ancient cultivated fields, 1. diospyros [persimmon], 2. gleditsia triacanthos [honeylocust], 3. prunus chicasaw [Chicasaw plum], 4. callicarpa [beautyberry], 5. morus rubra [red mulberry], 6. juglans exaltata [shellbark, or shagbark, hickory], 7. juglans nigra [black walnut], which inform us, that these trees were cultivated by the ancients, on account of their fruit, as being wholesome and nourishing food. Though these are natives of the forest, yet they thrive better, and are more fruitful, in cultivated plantations, and the fruit is in great estimation with the present generation of Indians, particularly juglans exaltata, commonly called shell-barked hiccory. The Creeks store up the last in their towns. I have seen above an hundred bushels of these nuts belonging to one family. They pound them to pieces, and then cast them into boiling water, which, after passing through fine strainers, preserves the most oily part of the liquid: this they call by a name which signifies hiccory milk; it is as sweet and rich as cream, and is an ingredient in most of their cookery, especially hominy and corn cakes.

William Bartram, Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, The Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws; Containing an Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of those Regions, Together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians., 1791

Yum Yum

Once Venus flytraps detect prey, they close so tightly that the trap becomes convex, forming a sort of stomach around the victim, to the point that it secretes digestive juices and can appear to actually drool.

Bizarre Botanicals, Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross, 2010

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