Mother grew Marguerites in her garden for all the years I can remember. She also had a few buttercups along the south fence, and some cabbage roses which always seemed to turn brown at the edges before they fully opened. One year conditions must have been ideal, and Mother's cabbage roses opened to perfection. They were unforgettably beautiful.
Somehow the Marguerites have been the hardiest through the years. Her original patch is still with us, and the location is not too helpful to growth. I have borrowed from this and now have two clumps of these in my dooryard. On the farm they still grow beside the old woodshed as though they are striving to preserve memories. They show up well against the red paint. And remember these blossomed here to greet the steam engine and threshing rig shortly after the turn of the century.
The name, Marguerite, may be a misnomer for this variety of chrysanthemum. But the horticultural books tell us that many varieties are commonly called Marguerites. Ours blossoms about September 1st. with white daisy-like blooms.
During mid-June we drove up through northern Wisconsin and the fields were dancing with white daisies. They were the purest white I have ever seen. Interspersing these were hosts of a more double native flower in shades of deep orange and yellow. It brought us into conversation about the meadows dotted with wild flowers which our early settlers found in America. In other areas the roadsides were azure blue with spiderworts.
We then started talking of the prairie grasses which had once covered our country. These stone-strewed fields we were passing were highlighted by jewels of bloom and they gave us a small glimpse of what a picture this must have been (minus the huge boulders, I hope, if one was to farm.)
As the miles ticked off on our speedometer I mentioned that this was one project I would like to undertake - to return our hill to its original state, or as near to it as I could. We have an extra acre in alfalfa hay and a row of young evergreens are climbing to the summit of our hill where we spread them into a wing around the corner.
Should this ever happen every wild flower that I could find would be tucked into this natural arena toward the morning sun. This spring I strewed wild flower seed into my raspberry patch. The rain has been most cooperative. Perhaps I will have some results there.
As so often has been my experience (I call it God's Holy Spirit at work) the very next day after our venture into the north country and our subsequent conversation, an article appeared on the editorial page of our daily paper. It was entitled OUR VANISHING PRAIRIES. The account went on to tell how a group of concerned people at Baylor University in Waco, Texas had transplanted one of the few remaining patches of black land prairie into its new Natural Science Center. A building and parking area was being built and nature was about to take another beating.
Three acres of prairie were delicately transplanted to the Baylor Site. It took weeks of intensive study to insure reconstruction to as near its original form as possible. Students and faculty worked together. They found this patch of prairie supported 18 different native grasses and numerous small animals. Some of the latter they will eventually bring into this mini-prairie.
The biology professor, Fred R. Gehlbach, reports the grass is growing well at the 'prairie zoo' but it will take 10 years to reestablish the ecosystem which caused the prairie to flourish for thousands of years. To think that a parking lot and a big bull-dozer can undo all of this in a few hours! It is sad, isn't it?
I'm reasonable enough to know we have to live, but I'm romantic enough to know we can't live on bread alone. After reading this article I'm intelligent enough to know I may not have the know how to bring our acre back to an original prairie. What were the original grasses native to Wisconsin? And the flowers which flourished here?
In the meantime I shall happily watch Mother's Marguerites come into blossom, and pour an extra quart of water on my Provence Rose. This, my spiritual mother, a very special person in my life, brought with her from New England when they homesteaded here. I retrieved three roots of it this spring from being killed by quack. I am tending it like a newly-born baby. This One I almost lost.
I have always believed that God didn't create anything for nothing. And surely we should be his cooperative caretakers. But it seems we are dedicated to mile upon mile of concrete. Yet always there is that gentle persistence which pushes a tiny blossom up through a crack in our unyielding surface. Let's help this along all we can.
In the past week I saw an encouraging sign on the side of a green pick-up truck, ALL GROWING PLANTS HELP CLEANSE OUR AIR. So - hold down your Steam Henry, and brighten up your corner with a triangle of trees or a patch of pink posies.