"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bindweed Beauty

I kinda like weeds. I think it all started when I read for the first time that there is no real, technical definition of a "weed," it's just what we call any plant we don't like. Certain weeds are of course invasive or exotic interlopers who go crazy in their new habitat (kudzu anyone?) and this feels like it gives them special status, but the fact remains that any particular weed some other gardener's "plant."

Yesterday I found myself eying up a sweet little specimen of field bindweed which is an Asian hobo plant, the perennial form of our beloved old fashioned garden annual, morning glory. Isn't it pretty though? The blooms are smaller than a morning glory, just little one inch cups, but so elegant and romantic looking. I am half-tempted (but only half, don't worry!) to dig some up and plant it in the somewhat empty corners of my fledgling flower beds. It twines so sweetly and it looks a bit like a miniature moonvine although it blooms during the day and isn't sweetly scented.

When we were in California their variety was larger, the size of the garden annual morning glory and all pink striped about the throat. So pretty! I tried to paint the above photo after we got home but, with dismal success...I may try again sometime. It was so pretty and they have such wonderful lines.

The Brothers Grimm had a sweet little legend about St. Mary and bindweed which you can read here.
 And this poem by Susan Coolidge, captures exactly what I feel about the little flower.

  In the deep shadow of the porch
    A slender bind-weed springs,
    And climbs, like airy acrobat,
    The trellises, and swings
    And dances in the golden sun
    In fairy loops and rings.

    Its cup-shaped blossoms, brimmed with dew,
    Like pearly chalices,
    Hold cooling fountains, to refresh
    The butterflies and bees;
    And humming-birds on vibrant wings
    Hover, to drink at ease.

    And up and down the garden-bed,
    Mid box and thyme and yew,
    And spikes of purple lavender,
    And spikes of larkspur blue,
    The bind-weed tendrils win their way,
    And find a passage through.

    With touches coaxing, delicate,
    And arts that never tire,
    They tie the rose-trees each to each,
    The lilac to the brier,
    Making for graceless things a grace,
    With steady, sweet desire.

    Till near and far the garden growths.
    The sweet, the frail, the rude,
    Draw close, as if with one consent,
    And find each other good,
    Held by the bind-weed's pliant loops,
    In a dear brotherhood.

    Like one fair sister, slender, arch,
    A flower in bloom and poise,
    Gentle and merry and beloved,
    Making no stir or noise,
    But swaying, linking, blessing all
    A family of boys.

I'll stop short of actually planting it in my own garden but, if I do find it has climbed in, I think I'll lean more towards training it and culling it than extermination. How do you resist those little paper thin funnels of white?


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