Monday, January 2, 2012

Let's Get This Thing Started Right

Let's pretend it's not 2012, but the beginning of 1928 perhaps and through some miracle of time travel, we are not only in Prague in 1928, but the internet has travelled with us and Karl Capek is blogging just the tiniest bit from the January chapter of his book, The Gardener's Year. He has just told us gardeners that not only in January should we be cultivating the weather (we will trick it into warming up by putting on our heaviest clothes or freezing by writing about how warm it is), bemoaning the advice of gardening handbooks that tell us to use the winter for repairing things we don't have like pergolas and greenhouses, but also that now is the time we should be appreciating the best-known January plants, the "so-called flowers on the window-panes".
Drawing by Josef Capek from his brother's book, The Gardener's Year
"Botanically the flowers of ice are distinguished by the fact that they are not flowers at all, but merely foliage. This foliage resembles endive, parsley, and the leaves of celery, as well as different members of the family of Cynarocephalae, Carduaceae, Dipsaceae, Acanthaceae, Umbelliferae, and so on; they may be compared with the genera: Onopordon or cotton thistle, Charlemagne's thistle, Cirsium, Notabasis, sea holly, globe thistle, woolly-head thistle, teasel, "saffron thistle", bear's breech and with other plants with spiny, feathery, toothed, jagged, cut, clipped or hackled foliage; sometimes they resemble ferns or palm leaves, and at other times the needles of the juniper; but they never have flowers."
Karl Capek, The Gardener's Year

So let's get this thing started right, this new year, time travelling with the lovely words of one that went before us, a writer who loved to garden, and with an appreciation for the humor and the magic, the wonder we will find this year in gardens (even if right now they should only be gardens of ice on the window panes). I hear that tomorrow in Brooklyn, there's a chance of flurries.

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