Quote: The Art Of War

“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.”

-Sun Tzu
The Art Of War

 

 

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Coming Home…

We have been warned that there may be a shortage of certain flower seeds after the unnaturally wet and sunless summer of 1954, and that it is therefore even more advisable than usual to order in good time.

-Vita Sackville-West
More For Your Garden
January 2, 1955

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I haven’t written in a few weeks.  During my time away, I was working on a couple books but through the toil of turning words, characters, and plotlines, I acquired an unprecedented lack of interest for all things green.

After reading the letters of Vita to Virginia Woolf I put Vita down for a while, her books sat on my shelf unopened.    I became so entrenched in my own writing I completely forgot the garden.   It went alright for a while.  Some of what I wrote turned out well and I was proud to call it my work.  But the creative juices eventually ceased for lack of nourishment and writer’s block hit me.  I wondered what had happened to spur the drought.  I read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, thinking the prose would inspire something in me, but it had the opposite effect.  If anything, it spurred a desperate yearning to be a better writer and work more intensely on my craft.  Forget the garden all together for there is real work to be done.

The writings of Virginia Woolf make everything I’ve ever written seem trivial and frivolous.   She holds a profound understanding of humanity at a distance, yet so close to the chest.  She writes with a cold intensity that could only be matched in warfare, yet soft like a passing thought or a summer’s breeze.  How does she do it?  The word genius comes to mind – that word which separates the masters from mere tradesman.

I finished the book last night; placed a four star review on goodreads and lifted Vita’s More For Your Garden off my nightstand.   Reading just a couple lines brought me home again and I instantly remembered why I was drawn to her in the first place.   Vita Sackville-West is my muse and my inspiration – not only for the garden, but for my writing.   She takes nothing away from her readers.  She will not strip you down and smugly examine you.   Instead, she will let you be just as you are, but nurture your growth.  Right there with you, she’ll hold your hand through the journey; a comfort and a joy.   She is a reminder of the consistencies in nature – the earth will always smell like earth, a rose will perpetually surprise you with its beauty, and if you cut a branch it will sprout anew.

Vita possessed the grounding element which Virginia lacked.  On the other hand, Virginia possessed a keen understanding of the human condition which Vita lacked.  I find this balance in their writing useful for my own.  However, there was nothing more refreshing than opening Vita’s little garden book after so long a winter; like a sudden warm breath of freesia and jasmine in the cold.  Indeed, it is good to be home.

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Salvia: A Variety That Should Be Forbidden

The sage is altogether an amiable plant; indeed, its Latin name, Salvia, comes from salvere, to save, or heal, and one of its nicknames is S. slavatrix, which sounds very reassuring….The garden sages are useful for the herbaceous border.  I do not mean that half-hardy bedding-out plant beloved of the makers of public gardens, S. splendens, which should be forbidden by law to all but the most skilful handlers.

-Vita Sackville-West
A Joy of Gardening, 1958

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Pictured above: Salvia Splendens (Wikipedia)

I can see what she means about this Salvia Splendens.   I was thinking I would plant some annual salvia in my pots this summer.  But rather I was picturing the purple long stems of Salvia Cathedral.

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Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the only colors I can tolerate right now are subtle.  I seem be drawn to purple, white and yellow.   It’s different every year.  It just comes over me and I must immerse myself in certain colors.  One year I planted only red, white and blue flowers.  I was going for an all American theme that time, I thought it looked very cool.

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There is also a perennial Salvia, Foglers has a good batch right now.  In fact, they have good healthy lot of many things.  I would advise checking them out.  But if you are looking for the annual Salvia which is the focus of this post, I would go to Bordine’s.  They’re batch is looking very healthy, as you can see from the photos.

Whether it’s a fragrance or a hedge to keep out the bunnies, or if the plants can be harvested in someway, dried and be given as a gift or kept for your own enjoyment, or cooking, what have you, it is all the better if they can be of use in some way.  When I choose flowers, shrubs or trees, I try my best to adhere to this rule.  They can’t just sit and look pretty, they have to do something for me.  Salvia fits perfectly into the arena of “provider”.

Salvia, can give pleasant dried batches of color that last all winter long.  Simply harvest the amount of stems you would like, tie them together and hang them upside down in your kitchen or mudroom and they make for a nice display while slowly expending their moisture.  You really can’t go wrong.  My Grandmother will dry a little batch of her Salvia and present them to me in the fall tied with a precious twine bow.  It makes for a dainty gift of care and effort.

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