Sternbergia lutea

Jim McKenney
Thu, 09 Sep 2004 14:28:46 PDT
At 08:03 PM 9/9/2004 +0200, Angelo Porcelli wrote:

>The word for 'little spring' doesn't exist, as it's just my creation.
>Anyway, in the case we would use 'Primaverina' :-)

Perhaps the rest of you may wonder why such a thing is of interest to me. 

The German garden writer/nurseryman Karl Foerster, writing not quite a
century ago (Vom Bluetengarten der Zukunft, Verlag Der Gartenschoenheit,
Berlin=Westend 1922 - I have the second edition) used the word Vorfruehling
(literally, pre-spring) to describe that period in late winter when,
although the cold and occasionally bitter weather is still with us, the
garden nevertheless surges into bloom. Technically, spring does not begin
until the third week of March; yet in many years the Eranthis, Galanthus,
early Crocus, "spring" blooming Colchicum and so on are gone by then. It's
one of the most interesting times of the year for the bulb enthusiast, yet
we really don't have a word for this season in English. Angelo's "little
spring", which he used to describe phenomena at the other end of the year,
reminded me of this. 

And here's another thought: the return of the rains in summer dry climates
brings on a burst of bloom in the autumn which well deserves a name -
Angelo's "little spring" makes perfectly good sense to me. Most of us who
live in winter cold northern climates think of the northern hemisphere
spring as the beginning of the gardening year. Yet all of my gardening
life, the annual return of the late summer/autumn blooming bulbs has
signaled for me the beginning of the gardening year. And the academic year
begins again in the autumn (although I suspect that that has something to
do with the lack of air conditioning in the recent past, and before that
the need for cheap child labor in the summer fields).  

The Jewish New Year will be celebrated next week: I've often wondered, is
this a holdover from the days when the arrival of the autumnal rains
signaled the time to plant and begin a new agricultural year? 

Here in Maryland, the "little spring" tends to be overshadowed by the
events in the greater garden. Still, there is an excitement all out of
proportion to the size, color or other qualities of the late
summer/autumn-blooming bulbs which on a very deep level has something to do
with new beginnings: it's as if, even in this northern climate and so many
generations removed from our apparent ancestors, these plants trigger
something vestigial and elemental in my senses.

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where it takes a lot of
imagination to think "Primaverina" in our bagno Turco climate. 

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