Dining room decorations for St. Patty's Day: potatoes, a can of Bewley's Irish Cream coffee, my seed packets and potatoes, and a picture of The Henry Whitfield House, Gilford, CT. The house reminds me of those little stone cottages near Blarney, Co.Cork.
Somewhere in the great "history book" of life, Mr. H. Whitfield and i are related.
What does it take to get a few of these little Bells of Ireland seeds these days? I've been scouring and my mom has checked her haunts in No. Idaho for me with no luck. They were quite elusive, like the wee leprechans.
Ri and i had this plan for a gift for dear friends of ours--she would like to paint a terracotta pot to look like a pot o' gold and stuff it full of seeds for their garden: potatoes, Bells of Ire, and Johnny Jump Ups (which is also the name for a special 200 proof brew--a cider--concocted around Co. Cork long ago--sometime around the war i think.) Then, my pop told me that he remembers my great-grandmother used to plant these Bells of Ireland in their yard back in Connecticut, and that made me want to find them even more. A few years ago, Hubbie made all my gardening dreams come true and built the Celtic Cross garden i designed out in our front yard. Last year it served as my kitchen garden, but the weeds are unforgiving in it, so i thought i would plant something more permanent. So Bells of Ire and Johnny Jump Up and maybe some Irish Eyes rudibeckia might work. I had found the Johnnies and the Rudis, but i couldn't find the Bells.
That is, until today!
Thee day, of course, when i had planned to stay home while Ri was at school and do a bit of cleaning up and decorating. After i dropped her off, something in my neurological circuits jolted the ol' memory box up there in me dense skull and off i went to the nursery just up the street from us.
Mind you, this isn't the most beautiful or relaxing of nurseries--it's the nursery for the 'burbs of So. Seattle. Nothing fancy. It's nestled between a Safeway gas station and a Schuck's Auto Store. And especially because it's practically at the end of the run-ways for Sea Tac airport. So, as you can figure, my hopes weren't high that i would find what i was looking for there.
Then, sure as sun follows moon, in the seed department then & there were thee seeds i was looking for. Wahooey!! Too magical it twas, as they only had a couple packets left--the exact number we needed! And from my favourite seed co., who hires an artist to draw botantical quality pictures of the mature flower of the seeds contained within. When i presented to the cashier, she started telling me about her trip to France last summer. She went to these gorgeous 16th century gardens where the Bells of Ireland grew like weeds and her description of the place--the warped panes of glass in the greenhouses that made it look like you were looking through an oil slick, the gardeners wheeling around their weeds like hand trollies built of woven willow branched, the Love Lies Bleeding flowers as big around as your biceps--i was completely mesmerised as if she had transported me to another time and place. My great-grandma's family was from the region of Alsace, back when the lines where France began and Germany ended were very blurred. I wonder if her family had great gardens of Bells of Ire that grew like weeds back then? I wonder what advice my great-grandma would give me for culivating my own little patch of the Bells?