Public Domain Poetry for Gardeners and Nature Lovers: My Love by M. Hedderwick Browne

A Victorian poem titled "Mu Love," written by M. (Marie) Hedderwick Browne, and published in 1893. Here, the author compares the hardy personality of love to various flowers and finds them wanting until she comes to the resilient and low-maintenance heather which she holds in high esteem. Here is how the poem goes:

My love is not like the rose,
Nor the languid lady-lily,
Nor the pansy, pensive-faced,
Nor the drooping "daffy-dilly."

She's not like the pale snowdrop,
Fears of frailty in us waking,
Nor the shrinking violet,
For the shade the sun forsaking.

I can only liken her
To the brave and bonnie heather --
Hardy, wholesome, and not made
For a hothouse or fine weather.

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From my personal collection. All digitized poems by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Please cite as your source if you wish to share this work.

Diary of a Nature Lover: Zinnia elegans 'Benary's Giant Salmon Rose'

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.
Russell Baker

Are you experiencing sweltering heat where you live? This has been a pretty crazy end of summer in our Zone 5B garden. Temperatures were in the chilly single-digits last week but headed higher into the high 20+ degrees this week (30C+ with humidity). While most of our blooms don't seem to know what to do with themselves (some are really leggy, some are very floppy, more than a few are leggy and floppy), the zinnias that I planted in late spring are thriving and trouncing almost every other plant in the late summer garden sweepstakes.

The flower images shown here are the Salmon Rose variety of Zinnia elegans from the Benary's Giant series. The Benary's Giant line of dahlia-like zinnias was developed by Ernst Benary Samenzucht, a 170-year old seed breeding company with an interesting history. Benary's Giants are truly ginormous (as my daughter likes to say), with flower heads ranging from 3 to 5 inches across, which are very ably supported by their sturdy stalks that stay upright without staking, something I can't assert about my dinner-plate dahlias (lying face down in the dirt even as I type). I haven't seen any pest activity on these beauties but this is only my first year of growing this type of zinnia so time will tell if they are as insect and disease-resistant as claimed. I think I will switch these superlative annuals around with my weak-stemmed, aphid-infested dahlias in the front yard next year, perhaps in a wider variety of colours and in greater numbers so I can also use them as cut flowers in the home.

Have you spotted any Benary's Giant zinnias in your neighbourhood or are you growing some? Share a photo or story in the comments below. :)

© 2020 All rights reserved. (Originally published 2017.)

Diary of a Nature Lover: Paeonia lactiflora 'Lady Alexandra Duff'

I took a close-up photo of this beautiful cottage garden peony during the Peony Festival, held yearly in the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.

This fully double, pale pink beauty is the Paeonia lactiflora 'Lady Alexandra Duff.' 'Lady Alexandra Duff' is an heirloom variety that dates back to 1902, having been bred by Kelway and Son, once the largest nursery in the world. It takes its name from Lady, later Princess, Alexandra Duff (1891 - 1959), the daughter of Princess Louise of Wales and Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife. You can find more information about the plant here.

Do you have this attractive shrub growing in your garden or do you know someone who has? Share a picture and let us know how it's doing in the comments section. Below is a photo of the peony in full bloom (photo credit follows).

Paeonia lactiflora 'Lady Alexandra Duff' in springtime
by Andrey Korzun on Wikimedia Commons

© 2020 All rights reserved. (Originally published 2015.)