This time of year calls for a bit of shearing--deadheading--to keep some blooms in my garden blooming for a while longer. These beauties waiting to be shorn of their spent blossoms are Dianthus or what Shakespeare knew as carnations, gillyflowers, or gillyvors. So, I got to thinking about another shearing--of sheep in this case--that takes place in a land called Bohemia. One character stands out in this pastoral scene with her steadfast attitude about allowing hybrids into her garden. Why, though? What could be so disastrous about allowing plants that have been hybridized into the mix? Perdita, the stand-out gardener, whose name means "lost," can't bear the thought of allowing anything but the art-less flowers that appear naturally each growing season.
Perdita: Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flow'rs o' th' season
Are our carnations and streaked gillyvors,
Which some call nature's bastards. Of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren, and I care not
To get slips of them.
Polixenes: Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?
Perdita: For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.
Polixenes: Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean. So over that art
Which you say adds to nature is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race. This is an art
Which does mend nature--change it, rather--but
The art itself is nature.
Perdita: So it is.
Polixenes: Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.
Perdita: I'll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them,
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth should say 'twere well, and only therefore
Desire to breed by me...
(The Winter's Tale, Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 79-103)
A swallowtail butterfly (Palamedes, maybe?) on thistle, Cirsium horridulum, seen at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on May 9, 2010
No one really knows why honeybees have been disappearing in such large numbers over the last several years. Scientists think that a combination of factors are contributing to the decline. Researchers all over the world are studying this phenomenon because the possible outcome could be significant--a worldwide shortage of food. I asked a beekeeper and honey merchant at the Lumberjack Festival a couple of months ago what the latest word is on the disorder. He said he is studying up to be an expert, certified apiarist but hadn't heard anything new coming down the pike. I found out that the majority of his business comes from transporting his hives to fields and groves where there is a shortage of bees and a surplus of plants and trees in desperate need of pollination. Selling the honey is a way for him to make extra income and to educate people about bees and their habits. He also told us to be wary of honey sold in most outlets because it more than likely is "cut" with corn syrup to make it go further. It tastes similar and doesn't look much different, unless you've tasted the real stuff and can differentiate between what's real and its facsimile. A shortage of honey would seem logical considering the shortage of bees. But why is there a decline? Could the bees be confused--upset--by the displacement of Perdita's faves with those "streaked gillyvors"? Presumably, the bees can tell the difference between original, "rustic garden" flowers and the hybrids that have gradually stolen their scene. I wish someone would figure out what's happening to the bees and find a way to help them negotiate this thorny situation.
Prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa, blossom seen at St. Marks NWR, 5/9/2010
A little more light--maybe some funding too--on the situation might help us understand what we as a species are doing to this old planet, right or wrong, and put to shame--where they belong--those doomsayers' predictions that the world is going to end in 2012 or anytime soon.
Lighthouse at St. Marks. Guess who took me there on Mother's Day, 2010, after a great lunch out, just the two of us? I could get used to this new-to-me part of Florida.
For this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and links to other bloggers' observations about nature, please visit Ramblingwoods.com and leave a comment there too. Michelle would appreciate it. We all do.