Gifts for posterity

As some of you know, I spend a few days a week at Joy Creek – arguably one of our most interesting local nurseries. It was started 26 years ago by Mike and Maurice. After years of looking, they realized that if they ever were to find the kind of nursery they loved, they would have to create it themselves. And create it, they did. Around the house where Mike lives, a test garden began to take shape. This is where all the plants they grew were grown and tested, to make sure they could withstand our climate and the various conditions that come with it. Each year, more were added. Now, decades later, a favorite pastime is walking along the gravel paths, guided by either Mike or Maurice. You see, so many of the plants have a story.

Maurice has spent a lot of time in Japan – both as a young boy, growing up, and later in life cultivating his plant obsessions – Clematis and Hydrangeas, to name just a couple. One of his mentors was a Mr. Kazushige Ozawa, a Japanese Clematis hybridizer who bestowed  many unique and beautiful varieties upon the world. You can read more about their friendship here.

When Mr. Ozawa died in 2003, his nephew sent Maurice a memento that lives on in the Joy Creek gardens to this day – seeds to an Arisaema Mr. Ozawa had collected in the wild. It was part of his own Arisaema collection in his garden in Japan. The seeds were planted in a woodland-type setting, near the path, where anyone passing by can admire its strange, otherworldly forms. For the past few weeks, I have watched this marvel develop. Below are a few photos documenting its awakening.

This photo was taken on March 29th, as its green leaves were starting to break out of the hornlike sheaths.

A little more each day. It was a cold spring, so it didn’t exactly move quickly. This was three days later.

Another four days, and the flowers are clearly visible, like butterflies struggling to break out of their cocoons.

On April 7th, it looked like this.

Fast forward a couple of weeks – large shiny leaves that capture the droplets that seemingly incessantly have fallen from the skies this spring. This photo is from April 26th.

The cobra-like flowers are quite fantastic! Wouldn’t you agree?

You can read more about this particular plant here. Plants can be like songs – seeing it (or, in the case of a song – hearing it) triggers a memory of times, a moment or a person long gone. Do you have a plant in your garden, connected with a treasured remembrance?

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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13 Responses to Gifts for posterity

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Joy Creek is such a special place. I fondly remember Alison and I racing to get there before closing on one of our trips to your area. We made it but just barely. Mike was incredibly gracious and gave us a tour of the garden. Both Mike and Maurice are as exceptional as their nursery. Like most gardeners, I have some plants with stories.

    • Alison says:

      Peter, I remember that trip too. That tour was wonderful! You asked so many great questions. I, of course, was still a newbie and clueless.

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh, that’s so wonderful that you got a tour! It really is a special place. And yes, I have some things too that are forever linked with one memory or another – both places and people. I like that – it makes gardening so personal. 🙂

  2. Alison says:

    Anna, my garden here in the PNW is relatively new, because we moved here 8 years ago from across the country (Massachusetts). We couldn’t take any plants with us. I had to relearn a whole new plant palette because of the different climate and zone. I do have a few plants that I’ve gotten from swaps that are special to me. Thanks for sharing this great time-lapse sequence of shots of this special Arisaema.

    • annamadeit says:

      I think you and I had similar learning curves, Alison. First Sweden, and then Ohio, which really is almost the same thing as Sweden. Actually, one of my special plants are the little single wood anemones that grow wild in Sweden. Hepatica is another one. When I first saw them offered at a plant sale, I could barely contain myself. I was absolutely thrilled!!!

  3. rickii says:

    I love that you are turning your time and intelligence on the plants at JC and the stories behind them…one of many reasons we are lucky to have you on the team.

  4. annamadeit says:

    Haha – I bet it would take a lifetime to learn all the plant stories connected with this magical place. I wish we had a chance to work together more often. Kind of bummed that we’re on such separate schedules… 😦

  5. FlowerAlley says:

    If I ever get back there, I will look for joy creek. Wonderfully shot unfolding of leaves.

  6. tvojt says:

    That’s a really fun post. Thanks for having shared your blog link on IG.
    Not to be a know-it-all, but I’m fairly certain that is Arisaema ringens, not Arisaema thunbergii ssp. urashima. They might want to know if they’re selling progeny.

    • annamadeit says:

      You know, my impression was the same exact query, and when asked, I got a firm ‘NO’. It is exactly what it is labeled as. And, given the enormous respect I have for Joy Creek’s owners, I backed off and believed them. Thanks so much for stopping by, Tim! 🙂

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