Monday, March 06, 2006

The Grass Widow

My mother was a gardener and a botanist. Flowers brought her much joy! She had a favorite flower for each month of the year and it was not unusual for her to have one flower or another blooming every month of the year. Even with scattered snow in her yard, she could frequently find one or two specialty plants that bloomed in the coldest months that she placed strategically near a window or patio corner where it could be enjoyed each time she looked outside. Flowers during the winter are unusual in our locale, but she had an eye for unusual plants and garnered obtaining them.

Some of my earliest memories of childhood are of going on search for the first flowers of spring on 'flower trips' to fields and woods. In mom's garden, the snowdrops were first signs of spring. In the meadows and fields on the mountain foothills, we would search for the grass widow. When found, we would be delighted and know that spring was not far away. They would start blooming first in the lower elevations, and as spring progressed, they would arrive at higher climes as the weather warmed up. Frequently grass widows were found in areas with fresh, green moss,

The grass widow is also known as Olsynium douglasii. They bloom in early spring with wildflowers that are about 12 inches high. The stems are single or in small clusters. The flower is a beautiful, dark purple with a yellow filament. Leaves on this plant are sparse and although frequently as tall as the stem, are often shorter. This plant grows in dry, open areas which are seasonally wet during the early spring.

The watercolor painting above is one my mother painted. She loved this flower, mostly because it brought hope of more flowers to come as spring arrived.

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