|Pamela Frost with Arisaema candidissimum - Rosemary - Photograph Ale Waterhouse-Hayward
Paris quadrifolia, the herb-paris or true lover's knot, is a species of flowering plant in the family Melanthiaceae. It occurs in temperate and cool areas throughout Eurasia, from Spain to Yakutia, and from Iceland to Mongolia. It prefers calcareous soils and lives in damp and shady places, especially old established woods and stream banks. P. quadrifolia is in decline in Europe due to loss of habitat. In Iceland, for example, it is on the red list.
|Paris quadrifolia May 7 2021
If you tried to find this plant in any Vancouver Lower Mainland nursery your chances would be worse than slim. That interest in gardening of the 90s has been severely diminished as people gravitate to small gardens and condominiums.
When Rosemary started gardening in earnest, when we moved from Burnaby to our large corner house in Kerrisdale in 1986, she dragged me (I did not protest much) along. I am glad she did. Gardening became a joint passion for both of us.
My mother and my Rosemary got along famously until my mother’s death in 1972. One of their bonds is that both had an exceptional good taste for everything, from music, to clothing, manners and just about everything else.
I would assert that both women were snobs. My mother used to say in Spanish to me quite often, “Hay poca gente fina como nosotros.” This translates to something like, “There are few people as well-mannered and with good taste as we.”
With that idea that my Rosemary was a garden snob I would
like to bring in to this another woman, Pamela Frost who has perhaps the
loveliest garden in Vancouver. Her garden, on Elm Street is understated as
snobbish gardens are never over-colourful. Many of the plants in Frost’s garden
she planted from seed many years ago. On of my faves is her species
rhododendron Rhododendron decorum whose flowers smell of ripe watermelon. Below Frost's Rhododendron decorum.
A week ago I saw Paris quadrifolia flowering in my garden. But I did not remember its name. Then Id did with the help of Graeme who works at Southland’s Nursery. Is this the kind of plant that would be noticed by anybody except by a snob? It is not an easy plant to grow. As I looked at it I thought what makes a garden snob a snob? I believe it has to do with an inherent good taste for visual beauty that is not overly showy. If the plant is rare, difficult to find and grow, that makes it all the better.
But there is another quality that I think garden snobs have. Everybody else (me as an example) will spot a beautiful tree, a large old rose specimen, a big hosta but how many will note the little plants in a garden perhaps hidden by other plants or in deep shade?
It is that attention to the little detail in a garden that made my Rosemary the snob that she was. She died December 9, 2020.
I will do my best to continue this family trait and I hope that some day soon someone might say to me, “You are a snob.”