The Irishman & the German on Blue & Yellow
Saturday, April 09, 2022
|Rhododendron augustinii & Hosta 'Autumn Frost' - 9 April 2022|
Augustine Henry (2 July 1857 – 23 March 1930) was a
British-born Irish plantsman and sinologist. He is best known for sending over
15,000 dry specimens and seeds and 500 plant samples to Kew Gardens in the
United Kingdom. By 1930, he was a recognised authority and was honoured with
society membership in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, and Poland. In
1929 the Botanical Institute of Peking dedicated to him the second volume of
Icones plantarum Sinicarum, a collection of plant drawings. In 1935, John
William Besant was to write: 'The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering
shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in
a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry'
Wolfram George Schmid – Blue & Yellow
I have written at length how my Rosemary’s favourite colours
in the garden were white and blue. But as we both gardened and got older at the
same time, she began to appreciate yellows, oranges and reds. But in her warm heart
she held on to the cold colour blue.
|Rhododendron augustinii - 9 April 2022|
Today 9 April 2022 I could not but notice the almost blue
flowers of Rhododendron augustinii. I think her cultivar is most special as
rarely do rhododendrons of this ilk ever look that blue.
Because I have time in my hands I decided to do several
scans of augustinii remembering my friend (now gone) Wolfram George Schmid who
eschewed multi-variegated hostas and preferred the plain green ones. It was
Schmid who enlightened me with this statement that I will never forget, “If you put a yellow hosta next to a blue
one the blue one will look bluer and the yellow one more yellow.”
|Rhodendron augustinii & Hosta 'Dorset Blue' - 9 April 2022|
On 8 June I will be going to Minneapolis with my daughter
Hilary to the National Convention of the American Hosta Society. I am making
a presentation (using my plant scans) on the beauty of hosta flowers. Because of
Rosemary’s multi interests in the garden I learned to notice small stuff (not
only big and bold hosta leaves) and with our mutual love for roses I took
pleasure in looking at how hosta flowers are beautiful in their own way.
These scans go beyond my original purpose, when I started
in 2001, of making my scans accurate representations of the plants. Here I
delving into the “artistic”.
|Rhodendron augustinii & Hosta 'Island Breeze' 9 April 2022|
One of Rosemary's Spiffy Annuals
Friday, April 08, 2022
|Gerbera garvinea 'Sweet Fiesta' 9 April 2022|
In our old
house on Athlone in Kerrisdale I remember telling Rosemary I wanted red
geraniums on the window boxes. These geranios
reminded of my youth in Buenos Aires. They do not need to be fertilized or to
be watered. The proof is that they grow all over Lima in Peru even in empty
lots. It never rains in Lima. Here is a link to my blog on Lima geraniums.
on Rosemary’s face told me that my choice of plants for our window boxes was
low-brow. But she did humour me for many years until I learned the difference
between geraniums and her hardy geraniums. Here is a link to one of her
perennial garden Rosemary did not eschew annuals. She loved quite a few of
them. Because they die I am almost at a loss in replacing her annuals in our
Kits deck garden. Some of the pots have plant labels so I am able to look for
replacement plants. In other, cases like in the scan here, I remember some of the
annuals she loved. This is gerbera daisy ( I bought it just a few days ago) that is extra hardy. There are more
buds that will open soon so I was not too sad to cut this lovely one for the
flowers and hosta leaves emerging I find that I have a new sense of purpose
that makes me a tad less melancholic. I have been working in the garden, taking
advantage of the sun or at least non rainy cloudy days.
As I wrote
here, my desk is very important. I write my daily blog. But I must add that my
Epson scanner on my left as I write this is a Godsend in my life.
I have amassed
about 2000 scans since I started in 2001. For the first three years I stored
them on CDs. I am now almost finished putting those CD scans into two external
hard drives (one is a copy). I have no idea if anybody will be interested in my
plant scans when I meet my maker. But at the very least, like working in the
garden and taking Niño for his daily walk, it keeps me in close proximity to
Rosemary's Hellebores - My Sense of Purpose - Mi Meta
Thursday, April 07, 2022
|Helleborus 'Anna's Red' 7 April 2022|
A goal in Spanish is meta and has been long before meta in English
was taken over by one of the purveyors of social media.
Meta comes from the Greek and it means beyond or after. I
like the Spanish version, as goal in English is much too close to the idea
Because I studied philosophy for a year with the noted RamónXirau in Mexico City in the early 60s I do a lot of that useless thinking that
so many relegate philosophy to. I cannot explain to anybody that at this moment
in my life I find myself waiting. I used to tell Rosemary that I was WTD
(waiting to die) and this made her upset. Philosophically we all do. In my
youth, when I was 10, I thought that the only people who won the lottery or died
where my neighbours who lived on the other side of the street. As one ages
death becomes something entirely more intimate.
|Rosa 'Félicité Parmentier' & Rosa 'Easy on the Eyes'|
I am not waiting to get a job because I am retired and do
not need the money. I am not yet waiting for lab results because I am pleasantly
healthy. I do wait for the Sunday NYTimes which promptly crashes at my door Saturday evening at 9:30. I am waiting.
Today I came to understand that there is a purpose in
waiting for a spring garden to go into the transition of summer.
My purpose is homage to my Rosemary. By making what was our
garden into my garden, this garden will be a glorious remembrance of her. As
St. Luke so eloquently quoted Christ via King James, “Do this in Remembrance of
While it would be impossible to replace every dead plant
that Rosemary may have planted I am doing my best to buy plants she liked.
Today I bought heucheras, monardas, phlox, and two rare roses, Rosa foetida ‘Austrian Copper’ and Rosa ‘Félecité
But most important I purchased four hellebores (just once I
have not been able to round up any decent poems about them).
Rosemary taught me to add other plants besides my hostas to
my botanical interests. She was a woman of detail and particularly noticed the lovely
peculiarities of small plants. Most hellebores bloom about now, so come summer, they
are gone. So many of us (as I was before) want a glorious summer garden.
Rosemary new better and she loved her hellebores. She was in the garden all year.
Rosa ‘Félecité Parmentier’ I bought last year so Rosemary never
did get to see this old rose. But it did not survive this year’s winter so I
It was not quite sunny today but working in the garden with
my Niñoand Niña following me, particularly in the laneway garden I was almost
Getting Rosemary’s former garden into shape has given me a
sense of purpose, a meta, a goal. I don’t believe in ghosts and yet I do. I
feel a presence as if she was behind me when I was digging the holes for the
Luckily I only talk the cats as I just might talk to her
ghost any day now. Just for this June summer I might have to postpone my WTD.
Rosemary's Letter of Love For Two Cats
Wednesday, April 06, 2022
On Rosemary’s side of our bedroom closet she has quite a few
cloth and plastic bags from places like MOMA in New York, Italian museums in
Venice and Florence and a few from Buenos Aires. Every once in a while I become
curious and I inspect their contents. What I found today is what I would call a
love letter to and about two cats.
|Niño & Niña|
Rosemary wrote this letter of instructions to the
Kerrisdale Veterinary Hospital on the day that we were going to fly out to
Venice. We dropped Niño and Niña off and I never noticed Rosemary’s lovely love
When a loved one I lived with for 52 years died, I was left with memories of a garden, photographs on the walls and our bed with that empty spot where she spent so much time in her last weeks before she died on December 9, 2020. But I am thankful that I was also left with Niño and Niña.
Seeing her lovely handwriting now hit me straight through
It reminded me of an incident some 20 years ago at the
Kerrisdale branch of our Bank of Montreal. I was sitting in front of a young Chinese
woman who was helping me on some queries. I looked at her writing and I
immediately said, "You are Roman Catholic, you are from Hong Kong and you went
to a nun’s school."
She could not believe how I could possibly have known. I
was correct. It was her handwriting.
How will future people my age, many years from now, experience
what can only be felt so poignantly by looking at the cursive writing of one’s
Seeing that handwriting, and sharing the day with Niño and
Niña, now are about the same. Both are intimately connected to my Rosemary.
I only wish that Rosemary had been less reserved and had
written to me a letter such as this one.