The flowers that bloom on the 6th, tra la

My birthday — 9^2, 3^4 — rolls around again, in its relentless way, and people are sending me flowers. Well, electronic images of flowers. (Meanwhile, I’m wearing my, sigh, gay dinosaur t-shirt, and I had coffee ice cream for lunch dessert, because it’s my favorite and because 9/6 is, whoopee, National Coffee Ice Cream Day, as well as AMZ’s and the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthdays, 1940 and 1757 respectively.) Today, three floral compositions:

— a sidewalk-crack garden (on the street in Dovercourt Village, Toronto), posted by Randy McDonald on his Facebook page on 9/3 and sent to me by e-mail on 9/4 to cheer me up (despair lurks in doorways, ready to pounce on me and rob me of joy): cleomes and snow-on-the-mountain

— from Benita and Ed Campbell (outside of Denver), a Jacquie Lawson electronic birthday card, “Golden Chain”: laburnum (yellow), drumstick alliums (purple and blue), plus seven parrots and a peacock

— from Rod [Williams] & Ted [Bush] (in Oakland), a different Jacquie Lawson card, “Birds and Flowers”: an arrangement of flowers to be identified, plus several little chirpy birds, with the accompaniment of a much-abbreviated orchestral arrangement of Chopin’s Grande valse brillante

From Toronto. The scene that Randy posted (and then turned into his current cover photo on his Facebook page):

(#1) A sidewalk-crack garden: cleomes and snow-on-the-mountain are annuals that spread their seeds profligately, prodigally, profusely, prodigiously, promiscuously, so if there’s a garden nearby where they’re growing, it would be no surprise that the plants popped up all over the place, anywhere the seeds could gain a foothold, even in cracks and crevices

But there seems to be no such garden close at hand, and the plants have chosen to grow in just a few of the available sidewalk cracks — and there to occupy the cracks densely. This is transparently an intentional accidental garden (an intentionally planted garden — presumably with seeds collected and pushed into those cracks in huge numbers — masquerading as an accidental, “wild”, event) in an unlikely spot. A lovely conceit, a pleasant surprise for walkers on the street.

The flowers: cleomes. Mentioned several times on this blog as a seedy invasive plant, but not discussed in any detail, until now. From Wikipedia:

(#2) A cleome flower close up (photo: Sow True Seed company)

Cleome hassleriana, commonly known as spider flower, spider plant, pink queen, or grandfather’s whiskers, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Cleome of the family Cleomaceae, native to southern South America in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southeast Brazil. It has also been introduced to South Asia, including the Haor area of Bangladesh and India.

C. hassleriana is commonly cultivated in temperate regions as a half-hardy annual. Numerous cultivars have been selected for flower color and other attributes.

The flowers: snow-on-the-mountain. From Wikipedia:

(#3) Euphorbia marginata, from the Plants of the World Online (Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew) site

Euphorbia marginata (commonly known as snow-on-the-mountain, smoke-on-the-prairie, variegated spurge, or whitemargined spurge) is a small annual in the spurge family.

It is native to parts of temperate North America, from Eastern Canada to the Southwestern United States. It is naturalized throughout much of China.

… Snow-on-the-mountain has grey-green leaves along branches and smaller leaves (bracts or cyathophylls) in terminal whorls with edges trimmed with wide white bands, creating, together with the white flowers, the appearance that gives the plant its common names.

From the Denver suburbs. The final panel of the Jacquie Lawson animation, a composition primarily in gold and purple / blue:

(#4) “Golden Chain”: laburnum (the yellow), drumstick allium (the purple and blue), and a garden path with a bench to rest on at the end

The plants: laburnum. From my 6/3/14 posting “Plant life by public transport”, with London public transport posters from 1915, among them #2 there “Laburnum and Lilac” ( golden yellow and pinkish purple):


Laburnum, commonly called golden chain, is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. … They have yellow pea-flowers in pendulous racemes 10–30 cm (4–12 in) long in spring, which makes them very popular garden trees. (link)

The flowers: drumstick allium. From Wikipedia:

Allium sphaerocephalon is a plant species in the Amaryllis family known as round-headed leek, round-headed garlic, ball-head onion, and other variations on these names. Drumstick allium is another common name applied to this species. … It is a bulbous herbaceous perennial plant.

Allium sphaerocephalon is found in the wild across all parts of Europe except in the northern and western countries ( Scotland, Ireland, Netherlands, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States). Its native range extends to northern Africa and to western Asia as far east as Iran.

… The species is prized by gardeners because of its striking floral display. The spherical “head” (technically an umbel) is borne on a long scape, up to 50 cm in height, usually in July. It can contain hundreds of deep purple flowers.

There are many cultivars, in all shades of purple / pink and blue (plus a white variant). A sampling of three from the Breck’s bulbs site (

(#6) “Persian Blue”

(#7) “Azure”

(#8) “Rosy Dream”

A very odd digression. (By now, readers of this blog are prepared for postings to go off in almost any direction. If I told you that Mickey Mouse was up next, you’d roll with that, waiting for me to show some connection to laburnums or drumstick alliums. I can’t promise you Mickey Mouse, but I can promise you English country gardens.)

By the sheerest of accidents, while I was looking for images of “Persian Blue”, Breck’s images on Google offered this surprise:

(#9) Apparently, the model for Jacquie Lawson’s animation (with details altered to suit her purposes)

This image must be somewhere on the Breck’s site, or Google searches on it wouldn’t keep turning up Breck’s. I never found it there, but that’s not really important, because the image was just something that Breck’s lifted from yet another place (which Google Images eventually led me to):

(#10) The cover image from Carousel Calendars’ Country Gardens 2021 16-month calendar

Apparently the gardens in question are mostly, or even all, English country gardens, but I’m currently balked at getting information about the photos in the calendar. Carousel Calendars doesn’t supply it on-line, and of course their vendors don’t. I could buy a copy, from one of Amazon’s suppliers or another, in the hopes that it will actually say what the garden is (where it is, and what its significance in its location is) and who the photographer was. (<Rant>Apparently people don’t much care about the context of a scene or the identity of the artist who photographed it; it’s all just wallpaper, soothing in this case, endearing in the case of cat and dog photos, etc.</Rant>) But it would take at least a week for it to get to me, and I’ve vowed to finish this posting today, on my birthday, and anyway I don’t really have a use for 16 full-color photos of English country gardens. (I am dogged, but not endlessly so.) So the details of #10 will have to remain a mystery.

From Oakland. The final panel of the “Birds and Flowers” animation:

(#11) “Birds and Flowers”: I count five flowers in the composition, but I’m not up to any more plant identifications today

Meanwhile, the Lawson animations come with accompanying music. In this case, a familiar composition for piano, Chopin’s Waltz in F major, Op. 34 No. 3 (Grande valse brillante) of 1838 (when the waltz was still a dance craze and Chopin wasn’t entirely sure he could accommodate himself to such an Austrian form). You can watch a spiffy performance of it here, by Dmitry Shishkin at the 12th International Music Festival “Chopin and His Europe From Italy to Poland – from Mozart to Bellini”, Warsaw, 15–30 August 2016.

What you get with the Lawson animation is an orchestral transcription, severely abbreviated to fit the timing of the animation. It took me a few moments to realize what it was.

4 Responses to “The flowers that bloom on the 6th, tra la”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I have something that the label (now lost) called “Snow-on-the-mountain”, but it’s a quite different plant; it’s an Aegopodium, a perennial ground-cover with pretty variegated leaves and no apparent flowers.

    Oh, and I trust that your associations with the flowers expressed in the title are more in line with Nanki-Poo’s verse than Ko-Ko’s.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      The curse of common names. I know the variegated Aegopodium as bishop’s weed or goutweed, and used it as a ground cover for shady places in my Columbus garden. It does have small white flowers, but they’re easily missed.

      And yes, Nanki-Poo.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    I wrote, re the English Country Gardens calendar: “So the details of #10 will have to remain a mystery.”

    But no! Amazon noted my interest in the calendar and sent me an offer for the thing for just a few bucks (since it’s almost at the end of its 16 months), so I sprung for it, and it has just arrived.

    The photo in question is not only the cover photo, but also the photo for the month of September, *this month*. Happy cries!

    And it says right there on the calendar page: Barnsley House Garden, Gloucestershire, UK (photo by Clive Nichols).

    Barnsley House is a luxury country house hotel and spa in the Cotswolds. With famous gardens. From their site:

    Created by the revered garden designer Rosemary Verey, the gardens at Barnsley House are a classic example of an English country garden. With knot gardens, the Laburnum Walk [AZ: which I’ve been posting about], statues by Simon Verity and the bountiful kitchen garden growing much of the produce that you’ll find on our menus, these sublime and timeless gardens are sure to make a lasting impression.

    Rosemary Verey has designed famous gardens around the world — including gardens for Prince Charles, Sir Elton John and the New York Botanical Gardens — but we’re very proud that our gardens at Barnsley were her first creation.

    The Laburnum Walk with a different set of side plantings:

  3. Mark Mandel Says:

    These are lovely! — I was searching for email from the Jacquie Lawson website and this popped up.

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