Flowers of the Forest by Jean Elliot

a woodland scene with bluebells carpeting the forest floor

There’s always a time appropriate for these verses, given the events in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the unchanging human condition. It is safe to predict the forests of humanity will always produce such flowers.

The best introduction to these timeless “flowers” comes from about 1,000 years ago: Read more

Sound of the Season: A Morning in Spring

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

The oil painting Bluebells (1899) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema shows two women, one sitting on the ground, one standing by a tree, in a refreshing woodland scene loaded with bluebells in flower.
Bluebells (1899)
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

In the late 1990s, I had a recording of this piece, D’un matin de printemps, for more than a year before I listened to it one day on accident. Boy was I ever surprised! I had certain expectations about a piece titled From a Morning in Spring written by a French woman, so I had avoided it on purpose until then. The reality was nothing like I thought. What the music presented is a conception of spring I still find difficult to explain. Read more

The Shocking History Behind Two Brides of Spring by Edmonia Lewis

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead. Also, this writeup is long and strays from the topic of gardening. Initially all I wanted to do was share a lovely sculpture pertaining to the season and raise awareness of a little-known artist. As you’ll see from the background I uncovered, how could I not tell you about this?

 

“There is nothing so beautiful as the free forest. To catch a fish when you are hungry, cut the boughs of a tree, make a fire to roast it, and eat it in the open air, is the greatest of all luxuries. I would not stay a week pent up in cities if it were not for my passion for Art.”

letter from 1864

a statue of a draped figure of spring carved by 19th Century sculptress Edmonia LewisAt the end of the 1870s, while living in Rome, American sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis appears to have made two personifications of Spring evoking the Roman goddess Flora. Both figures are veiled and pose identically, but one statue, decked with beautiful garlands, is more elaborate. There is a fine essay by Theresa Leininger-Miller describing that piece. The simpler second one, exhibited in Boston in 1881, is shown here courtesy of Skinner, Inc.

A veiled figure was very challenging to portray convincingly in stone, so one was always undertaken to demonstrate mastery. Part of the inspiration for a veiled figure may have been Read more

Improve a Dismal, Off-Season Yard With the Easy, Shade-Loving Evergreen Bush Almost No One Grows and Appreciates

a view of leafy bushes even in late winter or March: the dwarf evergreen plant sweet box

The reason this is called Sweet Box is it’s related to boxwood, which is the evergreen shrub people customarily make into balls and hedges. I knew about boxwood since I was young but I only saw the connection made last year. I never would have made it myself because the leaves and growth habit differ so much. I never would have thought of this plant as a boxwood (relative) for shade or a boxwood (relative) with fragrance. By the way, actual boxwoods stink. Smell one in case you never noticed! Read more

“If That Isn’t Enough, Then What Is?” Vincent van Gogh’s Passionate Letter to His Brother From London

a watercolor of an Indiana wildflower called Dentaria painted around 1915 by Hannah Overbeck
Dentaria laciniata (around 1915)
Hannah Overbeck

In January 1874, Vincent van Gogh would write from London to his brother Theo,

How I’d like to talk to you about art again, but now we can only write to each other about it often; find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful.

. . .

Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see. Read more

Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind Ushers in Spring

oil painting February Atmosphere: Early Spring in the Vienna Woods (1884) by Emil Schindler
February Atmosphere: Early Spring in the Vienna Woods (1884)
by Emil Schindler

from the Ode to the West Wind by Percy Shelley (1792–1822), written in three-line groups called tercets:

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark, wintry bed Read more

Get a Glimpse of Country Life in Late Medieval France From a Richly Illustrated Book of Hours

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

an illustration for February for the book of hours produced for the French Duke of Berry around 1412 to 1416 showing an outdoor farm scene
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, illumination on vellum made between 1412 and 1416

Scenes typical of winter in central France from the medieval cycle of Occupations:

People toast their feet before a fire while the chimney puffs wispy smoke. Outside, a farmhand or probably a son, having finished chores with frozen hands, is ready to join them. Since it is winter, the plow sits idle. But nevertheless Read more

The Truly Shocking Ramifications of Our Culture So Rich in Electronic Media and So Poor in Contact with Nature

This may be “preaching to the choir,” but if you’re already among the converted I hope you’ll help “spread the Gospel.”

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Some links are independent, and others help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

a creek flows through a snow-covered pine forest in Arizona

As people nationwide resolve to improve their lives, society has a huge problem facing its youngest members that we’re not addressing well. This root problem is the source of many of the most difficult problems that we constantly are trying to address: childhood obesity that has tripled in the past 30 years, rising rates of allergy, asthma, diabetes, and stress, the large-scale need for psychological medicine such as Ritalin and antidepressants, increased nearsightedness, and more anti-social behavior head that list, although be assured this is not all of them! How about increased dependence and emotional fragility in young adults due to parents who overschedule time and prevent the development of independence? They’re all connected and this problem is not new. Read more

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