Saturday, September 15, 2012

Snapdragons for September

Although asters are the official flower of September,
snapdragons have the advantage of outblooming asters 
into the first weeks of winter.
And with our long growing season here in the Shire,
snapdragons are a popular choice.

 English snapdragons of the early centuries were primarily a crimson and white bi-color, 
but the pale yellow ones appeared in gardens as early as the 16th century. 
Phillip Miller's 18th-century book The Gardener's Dictionary 
praises snapdragons for their ability to
"grow among stones, or the joints of old walls, 
where they may be placed so as to render 
some abject part of the garden very agreeable."

The Shire's excessive rain of recent weeks
has rendered many parts of my garden abject,
so I'm thinking of planting a few snapdragons this month.

I do love their old-fashioned quality, their cheerful ruffled blossoms,
and their whimsical name.
 Alice M. Coats tells us "snaps" at one time were called calf's snout,
a far less charming appellation.
The Better Homes and Gardens site at
 says snapdragons got their better known name 
because is easy to snap the dragon-head shaped blossoms 
open and closed by squeezing their sides.
Well, that's interesting.
Flowers as puppets--the thought never occurred to me.

Planting snapdragon puppets in the year of the dragon,
a year known for bringing the unexpected, seems like a good idea.
If they grow, I might just have to snap a few.

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