Free Vintage Nature Poem: My Love by M. Hedderwick Browne

A Victorian poem titled "My 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.

Creative Commons Licence
Public domain poem is from my personal collection. All digitized poems by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Please credit and link back to as your source if you use or share this work.

My Photo Journal: 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.)

My Photo Journal: 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.)

My Photo Journal: Signs of Spring at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.
Mark Twain

Well, yesterday was a wild one, weather wise. Rain, slush, a smattering of snow that I thought was going to turn into hail... Yet somehow, I felt more cheerful than I would have even if I had encountered the same conditions a month and a half ago (when I thought winter would never end).

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
Doug Larson

No kidding, Doug! Isn't spring wonderful? Here are a couple of shots of emerging peony shoots at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden that I took last year. I haven't been back there yet to take pictures of them this year because it's been so wet and windy but I think I might just try today. The sun is out and I feel like whistling as I meander down some peony paths...

© All rights reserved.

My Photo Journal: Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily or Adder's Tongue)

Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn.
Terri Guillemets

I took the picture above while on a family walk at Toronto's G. Lord Ross Park, located in the West Don River valley north of Finch Avenue. This is a great park for a long walk with the dog as it has an extensive nature trail. We especially love it in the spring when you can see the vegetation coming back to life and in the fall for the amazing colours on the trees!

Also called adder's tongue, the yellow trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) is one of the earliest wildflowers you will see in spring, sometimes appearing even while there is still snow on the ground. This particular picture is somewhat unusual because it shows the flower with its head tossed confidently back, unlike its usual tendency of nodding shyly on its thin, gangly stalk, its face hidden away from you. Since the blooms are diminutive and shrink timidly into the embrace of deep layers of dead leaves, you really have to look closely to detect this ephemeral wildflower. You will have better luck locating it by looking for its green and brown spotted leaves that makes the plant look like it has tied an army jacket around its waist!

Here is a wonderful article on this little flower's name origins and how to propagate trout lilies in your backyard garden from the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Have you ever spotted this plant? Leave a comment and let us know!

© 2020 All rights reserved. (Originally published in 2016.)

My Photo Journal: As Maples Bloom

The maple trees are in full flower in Toronto, lighting up the surroundings with their sunny blooms. Individually, these flowers are small, barely even covering the palm of my 3 year-old daughter's hand. Collectively, they shroud each maple tree in a cloud of golden yellow and can be extremely striking from a distance. These flowers mature into maple "keys" which soar easily when the winds blow them helter-skelter, and are great fun for kids as they fling these "helicopters" and watch them spin through the air. Probably not as much fun for an ardent gardener as these keys take root very easily wherever they land!

I really liked the Rainer Maria Rilke quote that I used in the second picture, and tried to find the poem where it was supposed to have been taken. After scouring the Internet, I discovered that he never actually wrote those exact lines! The closest version I could find was a translation by Robert Temple of the following stanza from "The Sonnets to Orpheus":
Spring has come again.
The Earth is like a child that has learned to recite a poem;
No, - many, many.
And for the difficulty
Of learning them now, the prize is bestowed.

It was quite disconcerting, in a way, and I wondered if I should use the more accurate translation. In the end, I decided to leave the quote as-is since it appears quite frequently in popular quotation databases, and I felt that the sentiment suited the image nicely! Let's just chalk it up to poetic licence! :)

© 2019 All rights reserved. (Originally published 2012.)

My Photo Journal: Renewal

Image © All rights reserved.

by Dora Read Goodale
(first published 1887)

There's magic in the air today,
There's promise in the sun;
The very brooks begin to play,
And frolic as they run.

The hive is all astir with bees,
The slender willows shine;
The sap is mounting in the trees,
And swelling in the vine.

The swallow comes from far away
To seek her summer nest,
Whose narrow hanging walls of clay
Await the welcome guest.

At ease upon the cottage floor,
His head between his feet,
The shaggy setter guards the door,
Or dozes in the heat;

And there beneath the fitful ray
Of many a yellow beam,
His aged master, bent and gray,
Is laughing through his dream.

O, pleasure pricks in every vein,
And grief is turned to joy,
For Earth herself is young again,
And Time is but a boy!

Creative Commons Licence
Public domain poem is fom my personal collection. All digitized poems by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Please credit and link back to as your source if sharing or publishing.

My Photo Journal: Aster and Bee

Aster and Bee
© All rights reserved.

Do you miss the balmy days of summer? As I sit in a chilly room on a darkening day in the midst of a gloomy Canadian winter, I long for the hours I spent tramping about in the fields and meadows with my family when the sun shone hot and insects droned incessantly.

Among the daisies all astir
Observe the belted rover,
The merry little mariner
That sails the seas of clover.

Whene'er a shower falls, pellmell
Upon the seas of clover
He flies into some flower-bell,
And waits until it's over.
("The Bee" by R.K.M., published in 1888)

What do you miss the most from when the weather was sultry? As the snow clings to these January days, let's shake our boots and march through our memories of clover seas and mariner bees and dream of the days when we will arrive at the shores of summer once more.

Creative Commons Licence
Public domain poem is fom my personal collection. All digitized poems by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Please credit and link back to as your source if sharing or publishing.