Summer Solstice – Poppytime

by angeliska on June 21, 2010

I haven’t written about our garden in a little while, possibly because
I’ve been too busy enjoying working in it, and getting my hands dirty
to remember to photograph all the transformations. Poppytime has
passed now, and it’s a pity! I had never been able to get them going
properly until I figured out to scatter the seeds in autumn. They were
short-lived, but incredibly stunning. Perhaps next year I ought to whack
the heads instead of letting them seed out, and I’ll get them for longer.
As it stands, I’ll have a forest of poppies by the time Spring is here again!

Poppy imagery has been following me everywhere – on old postcards
and pillows, and songs and in dreams especially. I dreamt I encountered
the god Narcos – he was six storey talls, swaying gray and ancient high
above me. His arms were snakes made of fire and hundreds upon hundreds
of hands. He was challenging me in a voice made of stone and centuries
of bringing sleep, numbness, dreams and death to the countless. The
poppy priestesses spoke for me, in white robes crowned with the red
and black blooms. They told of the blood pact, the monthly sacrifices
all women must make, and our calling to honor the flower, and not
the poison. They used the nectar only for healing, for bringing succor
rather than sybaritic oblivion. A boon was granted; I had their protection
and thus Narcos was rendered powerless. It was one of the most intensely
symbolic dreams I’ve had in a while, and I feel like the spirit of the plants
were speaking to me. Interesting, too because I actually cannot ingest
opiates or opiods at all. They make me so uncomfortable and ill, which
completely negates their purpose. I do love the flowers, though and I
love the dried pods. We gathered so many seeds! Also tons of arugula
and kale seeds. If anyone wants to do a seed trade, just holler.
Oh, and I just found this article about Wolfgang Stuppy, Seed Morphologist Extraordinaire!
He’s doing amazing work, and his book Seeds: Time Capsules Of Life
is really stunning. “Stuppy works in the seed conservation department at the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (or Kew Gardens) in London. Kew heads up the
Millennium Seed Bank Project, an international conservation effort to collect
and store the seeds of 24,000 plants from around the world —
and the seeds of all native flora in the United Kingdom.”

“Ooh, their breath is warm,
And they smell Iike sleep
And they say they take me home –
Like poppies, heavy with seed –
They take me deeper and deeper.”

– Kate Bush, And Dream of Sheep

Our nectarine, pear and peach trees have been thickly laden with fruit,
but we got distracted and forgot to spray the fruit with soapy water.
I was shocked to discover all the pretty golden orbs covered in
sucking beetles, who drilled holes and swarmed the trees.
The leaking nectar attracted loads of butterflies who made
little tea-parties, extending their curled tongues to lick up the juice.

Obviously, I was very transfixed by them! I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

I’m hoping all of you are having a very fruitful and delightful summer solstice!
I wish we had time for some fire-leaping or corn dances or something, but
in lieu of that, how about we all watch Wicker Man again? Mer posted a
great reminder up at Coilhouse, but if you’ve never seen the whole film,
hop to that first, eh? It’s one of my all time favorites. Avoid the remake, please!
“Sumer Is Icumen In” (Wicker Man Version)

One pink flower and one blue flower – I’ve never seen such a thing!
Borage is one of my favorite herbs to grow. I just found out that the leaves taste
like cucumber! I’m going to experiment with eating them soon. The oil is good
for lady-troubles and hormonal imbalances, among other things. It’s also known as Starflower,
and comes from Syria. The flowers apparently have a sweet honey-like
taste and are one of the few truly blue-colored edible things! I had no idea Borage
is used in companion planting – it’s something I’ve been researching for a bit, but
there’s so much to learn! It is said to improve the growth of tomatoes, and also
make them taste better, and is said to repel the tomato hornworm. Likewise,
it is thought to protect or nurse legumes, spinach and brassica, and even
strawberries. Well, I need to plant Borage everywhere now, eh?

Blue Skullcap – Scutellaria lateriflora (also known as Hoodwort or Blue Pimpernel)
It’s said this this one is powerful remedy to calm the mind and prepare for meditation,
and good for strengthening the insight. It’s a ceremonial symbol of introduction
for young girls coming into womanhood, and a well known herb for the lady troubles.
It’s also a weapon against muscle spasms caused by rabies (that’s why it’s also called
Mad-Dog Weed!) Skullcap has a long history of use against insomnia, nerve pain,
anxiety, and delirium tremens. I grow the pink kind too, but this special blue one
was a gift from a magical elf gardener-man. Its growth patterns are very psychedelic!
So, I must learn this Joanna Newsome song this week for a benefit on Saturday.
It’s not an easy one to sing at all! Wish me luck, won’t you?
Hopefully I won’t be petrified. I remember when this song
was released before Have One On Me came out, and I
listened to it over and over on repeat, huddled in blankets
and aching for the warm days when I could work in my
garden. I’ve been thinking about forgiveness a lot lately,
and welcoming everyone into my garden with an open
heart, regardless of the trouble we might have had.
It’s especially significant, because I’ll be doing this
song with my step-brother (he’s going to play it on
guitar.) We’ve never played music together, and
a year or so ago I didn’t want to be anywhere near him.
But we’re working on it, and this will be part of that process.
It’s hard, but worth it. I would rather love openly, than
protect my heart. I don’t hold grudges, as a rule,
and I tend to be loyal to a fault. I guess there are
worse things to be. I’m learning how to make it work.
I’d rather just have everyone be together, I guess.
Well, I think Joanna really says it best – I hope we
can do the song justice! I’m trying not to be scared.
“I found a little plot of land
in the garden of eden
it was dirt and dirt is all the same
I tilled it with my two hands
and I called it my very own
There was no one to dispute my claim
Well, you’d be shocked at the state of things
The whole place had just cleared right out
It was hotter than hell, so I lay me by a spring
For a spell as naked as a trout
The wandering eye that I have caught
Is as hot as a wandering sun
But I will want for nothing more, in the garden
To start again
In the hardening of every new heart but one
Meet me in the garden of Eden,
Bring a friend, we are going to have ourselves a time
We are going to have a garden party,
It’s on me, no sir-e, it’s my dime
We broke our hearts in the war between
St. George and the dragon
But both in equal parts are welcome to come along
I’m inviting everyone
Farewell, to loves that I have known
Even muddiest waters run
Tell me what is meant by sitting alone in a garden,
Seceded from the Union in the year of ’81?
The unending amends you made
Are enough for one life, be done
I believe in innocence, little darling, start again
I believe in everyone.
I believe, regardless, I believe in everyone”

– Joanna Newsom – ’81


Happy Solstice! Beautiful pictures!!
I so agree- we should watch The Wicker Man. I tried to plant poppies this year for the first time without success- so the key is planting them in Autumn? I will try this.
Break a leg- for the performance. You are a lovely person with a lovely way- and I’m certain you will do this song justice, though I have never heard you sing. I quite agree with the sentiment- “regardless, I belive in everyone”. amen.

by K on June 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm. Reply #

Mmmm, beautiful. Don’t forget Plath’s “Poppies in July”:
Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?
You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns
And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.
A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!
There are fumes I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?
If I could bleed, or sleep!
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!
Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.
But colorless. Colorless.

by Melissa on June 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm. Reply #

Lovely Angel. My neighbor just gave me all her poppy heads to dry and use. The last petals are being bleached by the sun and blown off here on my street. They are such fleeting but intense reminders of the pleasures of the sun and summer.
I like the idea of the garden as a space for healing and forgiveness. I feel a lot of internal work can be transmuted by interacting in the garden. I think forgiveness is such a delicate thing–being too easy with it seems to invite more of the same, being to thrifty with it, seems to make one jaded and cynical. Striking a balance would be ideal.
Thanks for the idea seeds and have a wonderful performance.

by Selené on June 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm. Reply #

i am just soaking up this entry. wish i could come and sit in your garden!

by annie on June 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm. Reply #

Borage is also what you should put in your Pimm’s!

by Emma on June 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm. Reply #

I love that song! Good choice 🙂

by Lia on June 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm. Reply #

Melissa my sweet,
Thank you for reminding me of that poem! I hadn’t read it in years… Little hell flames! It was so, so, so good to see you – albeit briefly. I wish for tea-times with you this summer! Will you be around the Bay in August? I do hope so!

by Angeliska on June 30, 2010 at 11:57 pm. Reply #

Annie, I wish you would come sit in my garden!
If you ever make it down to Texas, you are welcome any time.

by Angeliska on July 1, 2010 at 12:01 am. Reply #

Emma dear – Borage in Pimms? Tell me more!
I’ve never heard of such a thing! Sounds quite enticing…

by Angeliska on July 1, 2010 at 12:13 am. Reply #

Well, my Grandmama and Grandpa taught me that you should mix Pimm’s with gin and lemonade (the fizzy British sort, Schweppes) and swoosh it up with bits of cucumber and borage, and only orange or lemon if you really want to. Mint is a poor man’s borage in this instance. Good explanation half way down here:

by Emma on July 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm. Reply #

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