Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jack in the Pulpit

My fascination with the Jack-in-the-Pulpit never wanes. Originally, I found this plant by the wayside, after spending a considerable amount on a plant from a nursery that died shortly after I transplanted it. I carried this one home in my handbag from a local cave, wrapped in a handkerchief... It was not the 'parent' bulb but a small new bulb and I therefore did not feel guilty really for taking it from its natural habitat. In any case, the plant thrived, somewhat to my surprise and great delight. There were one or two years when I thought it would not reappear, but this year, it actually has produced some new bulbs. Furthermore, I've been able to plant another on the other side of the path beneath the Solomon's Seal and Bleeding Hearts.

The Jack-in-the-Pulpit is so named for its ancient pagan connections. Jack is the old god of the woodland and forest. Green flowers have a certain mystical attribute. Like 'Deadly Nightshade', they are the plants of legend.

There are those who cut down trees in their gardens in order to plant grass and have orderly lawns. There are others who allow Nature to rule somewhat supreme in all her rather riotous glory. Unfortunately, one does have to curtail the growth of the weeds somewhat, but shade plants like the Jack-in-the-Pulpit would not survive without the trees and the protection of taller neighbouring plants.

Well, the Jack-in-the-Pulpit has survived one more year. Urban child that I was, I once thought that perennials lived forever, and was horrified when they died as the years passed. My aconite and wormwood are no more. The bright Lobelia has returned to the soil as well... and it is almost impossible to find a replacement. The 'Big Brother' attitude that prevails has thrown the poisonous plants into disfavour, despite their use in homeopathic remedies. Beauty is not enough, alas, to protect the existence of a plant. The Papaver Somniferum is one of the most beautiful flowers, after all. The 'Angel's Trumpet' is another. Plants that kill can cure as well.

One day perhaps the political climate will shift... let us hope it occurs before these plants become entirely extinct.

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