The Ladies Page

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.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment