7.02.2008

The Abbey Garden, Biblical Trees and the Slammer


The new garden is really coming along, and I am excited about it. There's lots to do, although right now we're held up a little bit because this garden is part of the new coffeehouse courtyard, and there's all sorts of things being built, assembled or painted that we have to work around. I am so glad to be a part of something like this, and to help offer a space that promises tobe full of a beautiful characteristic of God: His unabashed fecundity. I don't know if it's a characteristic necessarily, my OED defines fecundity as fertile, to which I add wild, heaving with life, lavish creativity, teeming, overflowing. So fecund might not quite cover all that I'm reaching for....so I'll invoke my new favourite speed Scrabble word and merely refer to it as the quiddity of God. Or, as Bertie Wooster would say, "It has a certain....thingness...."
Apothecary
This is the courtyard to the Abbey, the new coffeehouse/art/music lounge that is opening soon. Being named the Abbey, we've decided to bring in a lot of plants from the old monastic gardens, while still playing a bit on the biblical plants theme. Monastic gardens were definitely planted with an eye for the practical, and these gardens mainly grew plants that were medicinal, edible, or aromatic (I've found not a few plants that were grown primarily as 'strewing herbs', that is, fragrant plants that could be strewn on the ground to freshen the air, like medieval baking soda.) Accordingly, the plants we grow in our Abbey Garden will have some practical purpose as well as historical significance. Oh yes, and will be beautiful. It sounds like a tall order. We'll see what happens!
Odds & Ends
1) I'm hot on the trail of a suitable small tree for the center of the courtyard, replacing the lovely white flowered rose that has been bravely soldiering on in the bare concrete expanse that made up the pre-existing site. (The only other bit of greenery, the ubiquitous box hedge, was grubbed up a few weeks ago; so R.I.P. to G's favourite after-church hidey-hole.) We're considering a pomegranate, I've found a few for sale that are already trained as a standard tree. I thought this was a perfect little tree until I read about their thorny, spikey leaves and now I am reconsidering; tomorrow will find me off to the nursery to see how pomegranate leaves rate on the Pokeometer....
Almond
Otherwise I'm not sure what sort of tree should go in there. I suppose most fruit trees would do fine, and right now I'm tempted by the beautiful symbolism of the almond tree. The almond is always one of the first flowering trees on show in early spring, and is usually one of the last to lose their leaves. Its flowers symbolize the cups that crown the seven branches of the Jewish candelabra (Ex. 25:33-36; 37:19-20). The rod of Aaron after breaking into bud, bore almonds. But my favourite mention of the almond comes from Jeremiah, who sees it in a vision:

"The word of Yahweh was addressed to me asking, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" "I see a branch of the watchful tree," I answered. Then Yahweh said, "Well seen! I too watch over My Word to see it fulfilled" (Jer. 1:11-12).

In this text there is a word game between the Hebrew words shaqed, almond tree, and shoqed, I watch. Also, the image of the almond tree, the first tree to bloom, reminds us of the watchful eye of God, that watches over His word to set it to practice. God is the almond tree of Israel.

Besides all this, the almond is interesting in all 4 seasons: early spring, when it breaks dormancy, flower buds in spring, fruit in spring/summer, leaf drop in autumn, and architectural bare branches in the winter. It does mean that it'll be leaves all over the courtyard in the fall, but that is what fall is named for, is it not? However, they are rather ubiquitously planted all over town , for these reasons. So we'll see.

2) We've lots of other ideas and so far, we're trying to think herbs and architectural plants. Angelica, dill and rosemary fall into both those categories, and I'd love to get a hold of some rue. I'm hanging out with a friend at the UCSC Farm and Garden next week, so I'll see what I can procure from their prolific stores of interesting plants.

Here's some of what we're after:
*Meyer's lemon (espalier)
*rosemary 'Tuscan Spires'
*Angelica archangelica
*Rosa gallica (apothecary rose)
*dill, mint, basil, (the usual)
*yarrow
*creeping thyme, (esp. chartreuse leaved)
*oregano (I'm donating a lovely ornamental oregano
I originally pillaged from UCSC's Chadwick Garden.)
*fig
*wisteria
*jasmine
*hops
*salvia mexicana 'Limelight' (gorgeous!)
*hyssop
*verbena bonariensis
*aloysia triphylla (lemon verbena)
*verbascum
*euphorbia characias wulfenii
*grapes

I'd also love an olive tree and some bee skeps, but that's probably not going to happen.
And by the by, many thanks to bnegin, for the almond tree pic and to Pia Compagnioni, and the rest of the cyber Franciscans at christusrex, for the info on almond trees. Thank you, my brothers. (**said with an appropriately heavy New York/Italian accent and gestures.**) Also for this groovy quote:

"A tree, as a man, is a vertical figure projected toward Heaven. It is a symbol, because of its vital strength - annually renewed during the cycle of the seasons, reminding us of the victory of life over death."

In other tree-related news, B brought home a You Tube clip today of our friend Messo, being arrested by the Berkeley police after coming down out of a tree. I blogged about this before, so here's the follow-up story, 6 months later......when last we met Messo, he was a UC Berkeley student, acting as a hangers-on/support staff for the Berkeley tree-sit. In the You Tube clip you see him actually sitting in one of the trees in the oak grove, which is highly (no pun intended) illegal; as it is owned by the UC Regents & soon to be turned into an extension of their athletic dept. Messo subs at B's school-an early intervention preschool for autistic children, and you hear him mentioning it in the clip. I was going to break my rule about posting You Tube clips here, seeing as how it's about a friend of ours being arrested on a felony charge; but the ability to embed it has been disabled.

Anyway, here's the link instead, if anyone is interested. In which Our tree-sitter friend gets arrested.
I don't think they have wi-fi in the clink, so Messo, you probably won't be able to read this, but if you could, you would read about how we love you and are praying for you. May God see you through this, straight into His arms.

8 comments:

b said...

I think it's "mizzo", actually- at least that spelling is part of his email address. Youtube must have it wrong...
very chewy post!!

rosa said...

Pseudonyms can be so confusing! Sheesh!
Thanks for chewing.

Mum said...

I agree with the chewiness. In fact I think I might have a little verbena bonariensis caught in my lower left first molar. Floss, please! I do love reading your posts-the way you weave together Scripture and hort. with a slice of daily life and some wonderful poetry thrown in for good measure, is good for my soul. You are a treasure!
Bye the bye, if one had a mind to, could one donate plants to the Abbey garden, you know, from your list?
Just wondering.

rosa said...

Yes please! Donate away! I'm having to call in all my inherited ingenuity at finding things cheaply, so one would be most welcome donate something! And I hope one will be coming to the opening on the 19?

Mum said...

One wouldn't miss it. One would be happy to caucus with you re: a trip to the nursery.

rosa said...

I love a good old fashioned caucus. Makes me feel so partisan!

franny said...

What kind of hops would grow in this climate ?

If you're choosing for flavor, I vote for Cascade.

rosa said...

I love that you know different hops variety flavors. We're going mainly for ornamental, since it'll be growing in such a small area. We're going to get some hops from up at UCSC, I think we'll get to dig some up from their plant stock this winter. It's a beautiful plant-leaves seem to glow in diffuse light, and the flowers are a great chartreuse color....I met a 19th cent. Russian lit/Salinger fan today. He was helping out with the Abbey garden. I wonder why I thought of you?....hmmm. He told me the story of your blog name...

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.