The Golfer's Indumentum
Monday, July 17, 2017
|Rhododendron 'Golfer' July 17 2017|
Rhododendrons have a great reputation in my city of
Vancouver because they thrive in our cool and rainy weather. Some Rhododendrons
do not like harsh direct sunlight.
Many of the rhododendrons here have lurid colour of red,
orange and shocking pink. Those colours seemed to be the only available until
Nixon went to China and the subsequent opening of the forbidden kingdom.
There are rhododendrons with other colours and quite a few
that have scent. One of my faves Rhododendron decorum
has white flowers that
smell of ripe watermelon.
After their burst of flowers in the spring rhododendrons can
be boring. But that should not be the case. Many have interesting leaves with
indumentum. This is a covering of little hairs, fuzzy at times like the inner
ear of a cat. The indumentum can be on the bottom side of leaves and it is then
In years past I used to take my then young granddaughter
Rebecca to the rhododendron walks in VanDusen and at the UBC Botanical garden
and I taught her to rub the underside of rhododendron leaves. She was charmed.
Not too long ago I visited my plantsman friend Alleyne Cook
and his wife Barbara (a plantswoman) at their garden in North Vancouver. I
spotted an interesting smallish rhododendron (notice how I avoid that ugly word
rhodo) with an almost white tomentum. I asked him what it was. He replied, “Golfer.” I asked again and he repeated himself. I asked
again and he finally shouted (with his New
Zealand accent, “Golfer!” I got the
Golfer now grows in our small Kitsilano garden. Here it
is sporting its lovely leaves.
|The underside has a very soft tomentum.|
Saturday, July 15, 2017
|Hosta 'Neptune' July 20 2017|
I really never want to document (a word used by many
photographers which I do not like) garbage or the ugly.
When I scan the plants of my garden particularly my roses I
want to do it when they are at their most beautiful prime.
I purchased Hosta ‘Neptune’
last year at Thomas Hobbs’s Southlands Nursery. I was attracted to its narrow
and very blue leaves. In our newish Kitsilano garden there is little room so I
placed it in an area that got very little light and it was hidden from view by
a large hosta. By the time I remembered the plant did not look too good and it
had been eaten up by aggressive slugs that were not put off by the thicker substance
leaves of this plant.
The hosta is now in a pot getting more light and it looks
a mess. The flower (not yet open) is most elegant at the end of the scape (hosta
nomenclature for stem). It also shows characteristics (elegant they are) of the
Tardiana group of hostas of which one, ‘Halcyon’ is a parent of ‘Neptune’. So I
have decided to scan the flower and the best of the leaves. Next year I will
see what the opened flower might look like.
Vanitas (death in Dutch painting)
Se me va de los dedos la caricia sin causa
Friday, July 14, 2017
In 1965 in the middle of a damp and very cold Buenos Aires winter
I called up Susy. As soon as she answered she bluntly told me, “Don’t ever call
me again. You are an uncouth man without a future. I have a new boyfriend. He
plays the violin at the Teatro Colón Filarmonica.”
Then she hung up.
I was in a fit of extreme and
lonely depression. I was living in a pension in a suburb of Buenos Aires,
Beccar. I decided to feel sorry for myself in the best way I could. I put on
Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. My depression plummeted. I put on Astor Piazzolla's Milonga del Angel. It became worse. I discovered that it almost
felt good. Since then I periodically have sought melancholy as a sort of
These days in July when the phone
does not ring I ask my Rosemary this question, “How is tonight different from
last night?” She is unable to answer. I somehow feel that whatever usefulness I
once had towards my family is now gone. I could very well simply disappear into
that oblivion we have given so many names for.
But there is always an escape
from that melancholy. To escape it one has to look for it to assert one’s
ability to disagree with it.
That moment happened when I read
of a book that was published in 1979, Black Tickets
by Jane Anne
Phillips. The very recent review (?) by Dwight Garner in the NY Times.
What caught my eye was this at
the end of the review:
In the ways that its young women are caught between worlds, it evokes
for me a line from one of Edna O’Brien’s short stories: “I am far from those I
am with, and far from those I have left.”
That immediately took me to one of the most beautiful
poems I have ever read on loneliness (Alas! no translation into English) The
Lost Caress by Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni:
So everything was set for a blog but would I be able to find an adequate photograph to illustrate it? I think I found it.
LA CARICIA PERDIDA
Se me va de los dedos la caricia sin causa,
se me va de los dedos... En el viento, al
la caricia que vaga sin destino ni objeto,
la caricia perdida ¿quién la recogerá?
Pude amar esta noche con piedad infinita,
pude amar al primero que acertara a llegar.
Nadie llega. Están solos los floridos senderos.
La caricia perdida, rodará... rodará...
Si en los ojos te besan esta noche, viajero,
si estremece las ramas un dulce suspirar,
si te oprime los dedos una mano pequeña
que te toma y te deja, que te logra y se va.
Si no ves esa mano, ni esa boca que besa,
si es el aire quien teje la ilusión de besar,
oh, viajero, que tienes como el cielo los ojos,
en el viento fundida, ¿me reconocerás?
Thursday, July 13, 2017
|Rosa 'English Elegance' July 14 2017|
When I think of roses or look at the ones in my garden I
think of them as gender specific. I think of them as women. Even that lovely
‘Charles de Mills’ is a
To me a rose is like a beautiful woman. I have to look,
stare if possible (difficult in this era were that could be misconstrued as
In the morning, in the afternoon and when the sun is going
down as I did this evening my roses are like dogs in a pound.
Some years ago our boxer Antonio had to be put down.
Rosemary was in tears. We went to the Mexican SPCA in Mexico City with the idea
that we would leave with a dog. We looked at a cage that had many barking dogs.
They seemed to be wanting our attention and perhaps in dog language they were
saying,”Adopt me.” There was one slate gray terrier type, not too pretty that
was not barking. She was mournful. You can guess that we took Mouche
colour of a common fly) home.
My roses are like barking dogs. They must be saying to me, “Look
how pretty I am. Scan me.”
Today it was the English Rose Rosa ‘English Elegance’.
There are three images (scans) here. Two of them are from
the same date but in 2014.
On the Edge of My Seat at Edge 4
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
|Litle Mary Arnold, Cori Caulfield & yours truly at the Firehall Arts Centre July 10 2017|
My friend dance dress designer “Little” Mary Arnold and her
paramour Peter invited me to attend the Dancing on the Edge Festival –Eddge 4
this past Monday at the Firehall Arts Centre. We had one purpose and that was to
witness dancer Cori Caulfield dance. We had not seen her do this for some
In my amateur view of dance in Vancouver I would state that
only the (alas!) now gone to Toronto Day Helesic, and Crystal Pite (when she
danced) were her equal.
The whole night was a frustration for me as I could not put
my camera to eye to take pictures. My camera is noiseless and I use no flash
but somehow I suspected I would have been ejected if I had tried. So I took a
few with the camera on my lap (unfortunately the person’s head in front of me
was in the way).This is my only apology for the lousy photographs.
As an aside I sometimes wonder if one has photographed dance
since 1991 I would be given some slack. That is not the case.
The evening began with (excerpt from) Squin) with my
Cababayan Ralph Escamillan. His solo performance was truly on the edge. I found
it a tad difficult to follow even though I knew how tough it was for him. In
the end I came to accept the performance as unique. In modern dance one must be
challenged. I was. Not clear in the program but I believe that the music which
synchronized and at times purposely unsychronized with the dance was the work
of Stefan Seslija.
The second segment was in three parts. It was called The
Poets and it featured a solo performance of unique tap dancing by Cori
Caulfield’s sister Hailley. The second was by the young students of Cori
Caulfield’s Dance School.
We were all eyes for the third part featuring a performance
that was slow and hot (for a hot day) that oozed with eroticism. I had never
quite seen Cori Caulfield do anything like this before. We were charmed.
Next in line was Compass with Olivia C. Davies as solo
dancer and with Rosemary Georgeson (storyteller) narrating the beginning.
This work was dark and mysterious. It involved moves that were
not graceful. Perhaps her moves as explained in the program were to state a
hard and difficult narrative.
I was on the edge of my seat. Davies’s body was strong,
tall and lithe. But the light was arranged that I could not see her face. It
got to the point where that was all I wanted to see. I was rewarded by a fine
I believe I may have become a fan of Olivia C. Davies.
The Beetle & the Magnolia
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
|Magnolia grandiflora 'Alta' July 9 2017|
Since I have lived in three countries as a boy and a young man
before Rosemary, our two daughters and I moved to Vancouver in 1975 I have
varied memories of the trees, plants and flowers of my youth.
One of them is based on a memory (few details) about being
12 years old and being taken by my mother to visit her friend Mrs. Marjorie Sullivan
in Buenos Aires. In her patio she had a large tree that had luminescent and
very big white flowers that had a scent like no other. I know now that it was a Magnolia grandiflora. It is called the Southern
Magnolia in the US as it is the state flower of Lousiana and Mississippi.
Those who read these blogs know I am crazy about old roses
and their scent. There is one, a white English Rose, Rosa ‘Fair Bianca’. While I cannot discern the taste of wine and
its fragrance I do know my plant scents. This rose is a combination of lemon,
Pernod and (very important!) magnolia soap. Its scent is defined by the English
as that of myrrh.
In our old home in Kerrisdale (1986-2016) we had a Magnolia
grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ which never did flower. We moved it to our current
little garden in Kitsilano in the hopes that the move might coax it to bloom.
It died last fall.
Three months ago we bought a Magnolia grandiflora ‘Alta’ at Garden Works on Lougheed Highway.
It has bloomed! And it will bloom for at least two more
months. Of the scent I can only state that it is like no other.
|Magnolia grandiflora 'Alta' July 19 2017|
In this digital age I wondered why a genus that is at least
20 million years old would have scent. It seems that while there were no bees
there were beetles. The flower is designed to take the brunt of a beetle
attack. I can only add here that beetles must have had (and have) a keen sense
of smell (an elegant one, too!). Wikipedia came to the rescue with that answer of beetles.
Some years ago Rosemary and I went to North Carolina to a American
Hosta Society Convention in Durham. We visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. As
soon as we got off our tour buses the sweet smell was wonderfully overpowering.
All (and there were many) Magnolia
grandifloras were in bloom.
Somehow that our new magnolia has bloomed has given me the
hope that our sojourn in what is left of our life in our Kitsilano home will be
a most pleasant one.
The bloom of the magnolia is very white. As it ages it becomes light pink. After a few days it gets to be brown and it then falls of.