It amazes me that as a child I paid such close attention to my surroundings. What amazes me even more than that is that every once in awhile did as I was told. Because I paid such close attention to my surroundings, I have memories with vivid details. Its almost like being there again.
My exposure to horticulture started early on and the neighborhood flora seemed to have played a pretty large role in my formative years and on some of the memories I still cherish. When I remember the plants around my house it always makes me smile even though the plants themselves weren't anything uber special or so I thought. At the corner of my house sat a lilac bush that bloomed every May. If I close my eyes I can still smell its sweet fragrance. Nameless, naughty children would eat the blossoms. Why? Just because they could! In fact they did many things just because they could. Along the front and street side of the house grew irises and day lilies. The purples and oranges were stunning when they were in bloom and were safe from the nameless, naughty children's wrath and veracious appetite.
Early on there were two bridal wreath bushes that framed the front entrance of my house. The lovely white fluffiness never lasted very long and the bushes were removed at some point in time. I wasn't consulted on their removal so I don't have a clue as to why they were selected for elimination. That one I'll have to run by my mother and see if she remembers why they were dug up. In the back between my house and the neighbors grew a few burdock bushes. Burdocks are no more than an invasive weed, but for nameless, naughty children they were a plethora of trouble. Many a burdock from those bushes found their way into neighborhood children's hair. They would stick and tangle and cause quite a little to do. Dandelions are also considered weeds, but they were so beautiful blooming against the deep green color of the soft, velvety grass. I never understood how something so lovely could be called a weed. As mentioned in a previous blog post, nameless, naughty children found mischievous uses for those lovely weeds by staining white porches with them. My grandmother used to dig up the greens from her yard in the country and cook them...OMG! They used to make me gag. Now, fiddleheads on the other hand are a great treat to eat.
In the neighborhood, I remember blue hydrangeas (no one ever seemed to add any chemicals to turn them bright pink). Chinese lanterns had a firm orange ball inside that always fascinated me. Buttercups (why don't you build me buttercup...sorry, I couldn't help myself from singing that song and now damn it, it's stuck in my head) were used by nameless, naughty children to make predictions. If a yellow glow could be seen when holding the flower under someone's chin then that meant crazy things were going to happen. If I remember correctly, the predictions were as naughty as the children were. The neighborhood maple trees turned brilliant shades in the fall and when the leaves started to drop, we raked them up into the huge piles to jump in and cherry trees a few houses up from where I lived had gnarly diseased branches that nameless, naughty children used to chase other children around with claiming it was dog poop on the branches. Those nameless, naughty children seemed to be like the hoards of "walkers" from The Walking Dead...what a menace! I wonder what naughty things they do now!
While I was looking at pictures of various plants that are indigenous to Maine, I discovered one of the weeds/plants from my childhood days that grew everywhere. I remember being told it was poisonous and luckily none of the nameless, naughty children ever tried to do anything with it other than pick it and throw the ripe juicy berries at one another. The bittersweet nightshade plant is in the tomato family. Wow! I'm almost in a state of shock that I never pushed the envelope and tried eating one or that my brothers didn't hold me down and stuff a few in my mouth to chew... the possibilities really make me cringe!