The daffodils are now past their prime, but
other stars are taking their place. The
dogwood, for instance, still with its silky red
stems, but now displaying clusters of acid green leaves too. And the species tulips, a startling blood red, so close to the ground.
For me, however, the real stars of the show this month are the wood anemones. These tiny plants sit unnoticed during the winter months, but now they’re clearly visible, carpets of them, with their delicate white star-like flowers. The flowers open with the sun during the day and close again as evening approaches, closing also when it rains, to protects their seeds from damage. And when the wind gusts, they tremble, row upon row upon row.
One of the (many) traditional names for them is the windflower. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder apparently stated that these flowers simply would not open until the wind blows, and Greek myth also has it that anemones heralded the coming of the Anemoi, the wind gods. I hope the wind stays at a level to shake the anemones, but no more.
And talking of huddling, the Green Team turned out the following day, to plant more hellebores, asters and grasses of various sorts, and generally do a spring clean. Around a dozen of us braved the wind, and a shower of hail for two minutes or so, and much was achieved in two plus hours – 250 new plants were planted in fact. When you’re deep in amongst the bark chippings, you don’t see the overall effect of your labours, of course: you simply enjoys the act of digging, the routines of planting and clearing. It’s truly meditative, working on the Green. You’re buffeted by the breezes, and surrounded by the smells of earth and leaves, the rustling of branches and the murmur of friends’ activity nearby. They’re a few feet away if you wants to chat, but yesterday, what I wanted was to be quiet and busy, and that’s just fine. The cold didn’t encourage much resting on spades or any leisurely sense of pride when it was all over, but walking past the flowerbeds today, I realised how much had changed, and how carefully Mark and Antonia had planned the positioning of the new plants. It’s as if those new, fresh arrivals had always been there.
I hear that the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling is in negotiations to take up residence in the Sager Building. It seems likely that this organisation would be a more peaceful neighbour than the proposed Abercorn School, and I’d like to think that both staff and students would find some spiritual respite from grappling with the ultimate questions of existence amongst the trembling blossoms and tenacious volunteers on Fortune Green.
- Catherine Allison