Glykysides In Our Spring Garden
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Since we officially began gardening in our Athlone Street
house in 1986 my wife soon became a Master Gardener and a FOG (Friend of the
Garden at UBC). With fewer official gardening activities I had more time to learn
about plants. I know considerably lots of useless facts about hostas, roses,
ferns and trees.
I know nothing about peonies.
I do know that the funny word for these plants is
pronounced exactly like that yearly activity on Hastings and Renfrew, the PNE. I avoid it.
In our garden we have two tree peonies (they do not
resemble trees at all) and a few herbaceous peonies. The house came with the
pink tree peony proving the fact that tree peonies can live up to at least a
century if the garden they are planted in is not plowed under with its
accompanying house as ours (the house and garden) will someday soon.
There are four peonies and all have scent. In three the
scent is sweet and most interesting. In a fourth the scent is on the borderline
between offensive and not.
Google has made our beautiful stacking bookcase (glass
doors that slide in) and its rather large collection of botanical volumes
obsolete. If you cannot remember the name Meconopsis betonicifolia you cannot
find the reference in any of those books. It is far simpler to go to Googgle
and punch in blue Himalayan poppy.
But no Google can gather up such interesting and varied
facts about plants as some of our books. The book on Aroids trumps up on
anything you might find in Wikipedia.
One of our most loved books is Frances Perry Flowers of
the World and illustrated by Leslie Greenwood
. The former is followed by the initials
M.B.E., V.M.H., F.L.S. and the latter by F.L.S., and F.R.S.A. You can Google
them if you like.
Of peonies it begins with:
1 genus and 33 species. This family contains a single genus of dicotyledonous
perennials previously included under Ranunculaceae. There are about 33 species,
all N temperate, with rhizomatous or tuberous roots; the majority are herbaceous
plants but several are of a shrubby nature.
There is more (lots more) of that but this caught my
Paeonia officianalis is mentioned by Theophrastus, a friend and
pupil of Plato and Aristotle, in his Enquiry into Plants (370 B.C.). He calls
it ‘the paeony which some call glykyside’ and advised that the roots (reputed to
cure wounds) should be dug at dead of night for if the operation were viewed by
a woodpecker the digger risked attack and possibly ‘the loss of his eyesight’.
Like the Mandrake it was recommended that the ceremony be carried with the aid
of a hungry dog – tied to a string and enticed by the smell of roast meet, for
the groans of the plant as its roots were torn up would, according to the
Ancients, prove fatal to all who heard it!
Slide Soft Your Silver Floods With La Rêveuse
Friday, March 27, 2015
|March 27 2015|
Slide soft you silver floods
And ev'ry Spring
Within these shady woods;
Let no bird sing,
Slide soft you silver floods
And ev'ry Spring
Within these shady woods;
Let no bird sing,
But from this grove a turtle dove
Be seen to couple with his love:
But silence on each dale and mountain dwell,
Whilst that I weeping bid my love farewell.
You nymphs of Thetis' train,
You mermaids fair
That on these shores do plane
Your seagreen hair,
As you in trammels knit your locks
Weep ye, and force the craggy rocks
In heavy murmurs through broad shores tell
How that I weeping bid my love farewell.
Henry Lawes - 1595-1662
|English Cavaliers - Left the American Jeffrey Thompson & right the Frenchman Bertrand Cuiller|
Sometime in 1962 I heard Jazz Samba with Stan Getz and
Sometime in the 1980s I played a new cassette tape
featuring Pablo Casals directing a super quick interpretation of Bach’s Second
In 1964 in Buenos Aires I was offered a taste of marvelous peach
Tonight I heard an Early Music Vancouver
Songs of an English Cavalier
French group La Rêveuse
featuring American tenor Jeffrey Thompson at the
All of the above are first times. First times
love and many more firsts) by definition happen only once and if the experience
is a pleasant one they can only be topped with new ones.
One who would disagree is La Rêveuse harpsichordist,
Bertrand Cuiller who has played versions of tonight’s concert many times. He
told me that he never gets bored and every time is almost a first time as he
discovers new insights that he might have overlooked in previous concerts.
I am not too sure of this but since I am not a musician I
will believe him. I can assert that as a photographer who has taken thousands
of photographs, every time I point my camera on a human subject I experience a
thrill that almost matches a first time.
|Bertrand Cuiller, Florence Bolton, Benjamin Perrot & Jeffrey Thompson|
The concert opened with a grand, everybody-on-stage
pre-concert talk moderated by Early Music Vancouver Artistic Director MatthewWhite
Since White is an extremely reputable counter tenor he knows
about singers and singing. He can identify with other baroque singers and can
ask the right questions or interject with smart stuff.
As I heard this active panel (a super excited Jeffret
Thompson) and the more staid Frenchies I thought of Jesuit Pierre Teilhard deChardin’s
Phenomenon of Man which I read sometime in 1964 in Buenos Aires. In
it Chardin explains how Darwin’s evolution works in a special way. He says that
you must picture a dense wall with a small round hole. At the hole you throw a
small ball. The chances that the ball will go through it are slim. But if you
have a bagful of balls and you throw them all at once a few will get through.
Evolutionary progress works in that manner.
In my years in Vancouver I have noticed a steady slide of
excellence into mediocrity. You rarely get large examples of passion and
virtuosic performance. And when it happens few will be aware as our media has
retracted to near oblivion.
What has transpired is an anting up of quality and
performance. We are getting the best performers from around the world and local
musicians, some very good ones are following suit.
In short the musical standards in our city have notched up
because these men (and the women who perform in these orchestras) demand
Last night’s Songs of an English Cavalier was a night that
amply proved my suspicions. And before I forget I must add people like Emily
Molnar at Ballet BC and Arty Gordon at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company and our
theatrical directors like Bill Millerd
at the Arts Club Theatre Company and
at Bard on the Beach who are doing the same anting up at dance
Jeffrey Thompson sang like nobody I have ever heard
before. He was theatrical, he was lyrical, and he gestured with passion and
even shouted some of the lines while his smiles and laughs became contagious.
Watching the three French musicians, the elegant harpsichordist, the quietly
passionate viola da gambist and the theorboist playing all those favourite
grounds (while Thomson rested for his next song (when he sang on his bench it
was romantic or sad. When he stood up there were fireworks in the performance).
The panel told us that the English composers (mostly Henry
Lawes, 1595 -1662) were at a crossroad between the polyphonic Renaissance
period and the monophonic Baroque. Just like other crossroad (transitional)
composers like Haydn and Mozart (neither Baroque nor Classical) can be boring
if performed in some standard manner, many think that Hawes and company in the
same vein. “Not so,” say Mathew White and Jeffrey Thompson. With attitude and
passion Hawes and Haydn are exciting and fresh today as when their music was
To me it is ironical that here we had a concert of rare (to
a Vancouver audience) English music played so well by a French group and sung
by Rochester-born American Thompson. Part of the irony was explained by
Benjamin Perrot who mentioned that the fortunes of lutes and lutenists had
suffered a decline in the 17th century in England until it all
changed with the arrival of French lutenist Jacques Gaultier to England in
1617. The lute and lute playing became a new craze.
I must point out that rarely can you hear the sounds (the
beautiful sounds) of a theorbo (a very big lute) as it is usually drowned out
by violins and cellos. But with Cuiller’s laid back harpsichord and Florence
Bolton’s viola da gamba (and that special small treble viola da gamba) this was
a real trio and
treat to my ears,
especially so since I was up front next to the stage.
This first time will have a close second time. As I drive on Sunday morning on my way to photograph virtuoso baroque violinist Monica Huggett in Portland I will be listening to the dynamic quartet's music on my car radio. This second time will be helped by the images of the four as they performed last night. The music will provide me with fine memories. But as John Irving wrote in The World According to Garp
, "Imagination is better than memory."
That Frenchman from Calvados, Bertrand Cuiller would smile and agree.
|the viola da gamba|
|The treble viola da gamba|
|the treble viola da gamba|
Rhododendron augustinii - Not Quite True Blue
Thursday, March 26, 2015
|Rhododendron augustinii 'Marion McDonnell'|
Garden purists, sometimes called snobs consider that the
only colours in a garden should be white or blue. My wife Rosemary was one of
those. At one time anything red, orange or yellow was banned from our communal
battle-ground garden. Two roses softened her up. One was the very orange Rosa ‘Westerland
and the yellow single tea rose (single tea roses are snobbish) Rosa ‘Mrs.Oakley Fisher’.
But remnants for that desire for blue still remain with her.
Anybody with a basic knowledge of gardening would know that plants with blue
flowers are in short supply. This is why we have aconitums and the difficult to
grow Meconopsis betonicifolia and delphiniums which need full sun. Full sun is
just about disappeared in our garden because our neighbour’s (they rent)
encroaching large trees.
There are no rhododendrons that are blue. The closest is
. We have two in our garden that are a variety grown by
our friend Alleyne Cook
. It is Rhododendron augustinii
who died quite a few years ago was also our friend and she grew (to
perfection) the famous blue poppy Meconopsis betonicifolia
Cooke selected the bluest (or closest to blue) augustinii he
could find and renamed it after our famous Vancouver Blue Poppy Lady.
Kyla Gardiner - Theatrical Lighting Director
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
Kyla Gardiner - Theatrical Lighting Director
I had a tiny bit of my cervix cut out this morning. It was a
preventative procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells. The nurse was very
careful to stress that the cells were not cancer. I was a bit sad because I
have always been oddly proud of my cervix. I looked forward to the end of a pap
smear when the doctor would say, “Looks healthy!” Like when the dental
hygienist tells you you’ve been doing a good job flossing, I felt comforted and
a bit self-congratulatory. But the last time I had a pap she said, “Looks like
high grade dysplasia”, hence the procedure. And I know it’s not directly my
fault, but I can’t help but feel as though I should have flossed more.
I can’t think of the red shawl without thinking of mothers,
and then my mother and how much I miss her. Particularly on days like today,
when I have little bits of my cervix cut off, because that seems like a mom
thing. My dad took me to the appointment, which I was very grateful for. And
afterwards he asked me if I wanted a coffee, which I did. I didn’t really want
to drink the coffee, but I wanted to hold it, and to smell it, and to remember
something a barista said to me one rainy morning – that coffee heals the
darkness of the pre-dawn.
I have been fantasizing recently of getting away for a
bit. In my fantasies I am sitting on a sunny porch gazing across a lake while
drinking wine and smoking clove cigarettes like a badass. I am talking to a
good friend about a book I just read because I’ve been there long enough to
read a whole book. In my fantasy I have a tan and look good in cut-offs, and my
friend and I laugh in a worldly way about the sad things. As the evening draws
closer it gets a little cold and we grab a blanket or a shawl, it could be the
red shawl, to keep us warm. Later, when I am back at home and unpacking things
I notice that the shawl smells a little bit like clove cigarettes and reminds
me of what a nice time we had.
Homero Aridjis Poeta
Zippy Pinhead Musician
Caitlin Legault Art Model
Holly McRea Model - Poet - Creation Conduit.
Lisa Ha Model - Volunteer - Friend
Carmen Alatorre Diseñadora de vestuario
Roberto Baschetti Sociólogo, Investigador Histórico - Amigo
Jennifer Froese Youth Worker
Rachel Cairns Actor
Jennifer Landels Espadachina
Judith Currelly Pilot- Artist
Jim Erickson Set Decorator
Alexandra Hill Soprano
Georgina Elizabeth Isles Figure Model
Emma Middleton Actor
Mark Pryor Author/Lawyer/Assistant DA Travis County TX
Brother Edwin Charles Reggio, CSC Mentor & Teacher
Veronica Vex Burlesque Dancer
George McWhirter Poet
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor Padre-Compadre
Alexandra Waterhouse-Hayward Maestra
Shirley Gnome Singer/Provocateur
Yeva & Thoenn Glover Dancers/Choreographers
JJ Lee Writer
Cathy Marsden Psychiatrist
André De Mondo Wanderer
Colin MacDonald Saxophonist/Composer
Nina Gouveia Yoga Instructor
Stacey Hutton Excercise Physiologist
Colleen Wheeler Actor
Sarah Rodgers Actor, Director,Mother
- Real Estate Agent
Kiera Hill Dancer
Johnna Wright & Sascha Director/Mother - Son/Dreamer
Decker & Nick Hunt Cat & 19th century amateur
George Bowering Poet
Celia Duthie Gallerist
Linda Lorenzo Mother
Katheryn Petersen Accordionist
Stefanie Denz Artist
Ivette Hernández Actress
Byron Chief-Moon Actor/Dancer
Colin Horricks Doctor
Ian Mulgrew Vancouver Sun Columnist
Jocelyn Morlock Composer
Corinne McConchie Librarian
Rachel Ditor Dramaturg
Patrick Reid Statesman, Flag Designer
Michael Varga CBC Cameraman
Bronwen Marsden Playwright/Actress/Director
David Baines Vancouver Sun Columnist
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward Photographer
Lauren Elizabeth Stewart Student
Sandrine Cassini Dancer/Choreographer
Meredith Kalaman Dancer/Choreographer
Juliya Kate Dominatrix