Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trojan War Reenactment in Garden

[We got our first, much needed, July rain last night!]

Phil continues to embarrasses me with beautiful pictures of all his flower beds (though I know that Judy has a major role in their success). And now Linda has a post of her vegie cage and other garden delights.

My gardening bible is called no work garden. Our lot has a natural mini-woods and then I discovered the joy of perennials. (They come back up year after year.) And we don't have much sun. So aside from the rock garden out front, I follow the book title pretty faithfully.

So I have to show close ups of my flowers to compensate for the lack of profusion.

Until I did a little research for this post, I didn't realize that I was reliving the Trojan wars in my garden. First there's the Achilles flower. explains why this plant is named after Achilles, quoting from The Illiad:

"There is no more hope for the Greeks. They will fall among the ships....But save me. Take me to the ship, cut this arrow out of my leg, wash the blood from it...and put the right things on it—the plants they say you have learned about from Achilles who learned about them from Cheiron, the best of the Centaurs....

"...Patroclus took a knife and cut the sharp arrowhead from his leg and washed the black blood away....Then he crushed a bitter root...and put it on the wound. The root took away all the pain. The blood stopped and the wound dried." (Homer, The Iliad, xi, 800 BCE, trans. I.A. Richards).
A common name today is Yarrow, which killerplants (strange name for a site that has healing plants) says is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word through Old High German and Old English words for healer.

Then there is the Trolius.

Wikipedia tells us that
In classical Greek mythology, Troilus is a young Trojan prince, one of the sons of King Priam (or sometimes Apollo) and Hecuba. Prophecies link Troilus' fate to that of Troy and so he is ambushed and murdered by Achilles. Sophocles was one of the writers to tell this tale. It was also a popular theme among artists of the time. Ancient writers treated Troilus as the epitome of a dead child mourned by his parents. He was also regarded as a paragon of youthful male beauty.

The Lady's Mantle, while more gentle sounding, also is related to wounds and blood.

From Garden Guides we learn that
The [Lady's Mantle] root is edible, as are the leaves, which sheep and cattle are said to relish. The entire plant is normally harvested in midsummer and can be used medicinally for bruises and wound healing. Lady's Mantle tea is said to be helpful for excessive menstruation.

The flower expert tells us

The origin of the word Daisy is Anglo Saxon “daes eage” literally meaning “day’s eye”. It was called this because daisies open at dawn as the day is just beginning. . .

A Daisy is made up of two types of flowers - disk florets and petal-like white ray florets. The Disk florets are at the center and the ray florets are at the periphery. But these are arranged to give the impression of being a single flower. This arrangement on Daisies is a type of inflorescence known as a capitulum.

And this blue bee magnet's name eludes me. Burnet comes to mind but I can't find anything that confirms that. There is a book called The Land of the Blue Flower by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It begins:
The Land of the Blue Flower was not called by that name until the tall, strong, beautiful King Amor came down from his castle on the mountain crag and began to reign. Before that time it was called King Mordreth’s Land, and as the first King Mordreth had been a fierce and cruel king this seemed a gloomy name.
This doesn't entice me to read more, but you can read it all at the link above. And if you know the flower, please send me the name. [A friend I consulted who knows these things says it's Campanula rotundifolia[glomerata].]

Finally, from a Lake Country Point of View we learn something about the name of Veronica spicata - or Spiked Speedwell.
"Spicata" means spiked - so that's straight forward enough. But "Veronica" is a different story altogether. "Veronica" comes from the Latin Vero Icone , or true image, and is associated with Saint Veronica.

According to the Acta Sanctorum published by the Bollandists, Berenice was a pious woman of Jerusalem, who was moved with pity as Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha. She gave Jesus her kerchief that he might wipe this forehead and Jesus accepted the offering. After using it, he handed it back to her, creating the image of His face miraculously impressed upon it. After this, Berenice became Saint Veronica.

I recall we've discussed icons here not long ago, in a very different context.


  1. Thank you, but do you remember what we discussed about correcting my English? I do and I haven't changed my mind.

  2. I have realised that ancient text are translated to English in a very simple way. When we read antique literature in Hungarian it is much harder to understand because the archaic use of language.


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