Saturday, June 13, 2009

JUNE SNOW

Where innocent bright-eyed daisies are, With blades of grass between, Each daisy stands up like a star Out of a sky of green.
—Christina Georgina Rossetti
When some of the old poets wrote about the “snows of June,” they were talking botany rather than weather. Most specifically, they were describing vast fields whitened with the blooms of the ox-eye daisy. For this reason it was often called simply “whiteweed.” The ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, is a member of the Aster family introduced by the colonists from Europe. It’s sometimes called the Marguerite Daisy, from the female character in Johann Goethe’s drama Faust, who plucked the petals from a daisy while she sang the refrain, “He loves me, he loves me not…” Hereabouts, ox-eye daisies begin blooming early—in mid-May—and continue into early-autumn, though their peak is over by the end of June. They’re also quite pretty. The flowers are about two inches across, with about 20 snow-white petals and a bright yellow center. Some of my plants are three-feet tall—or at least they were until the most recent downpour, night-before-last, beat them to their knees. Ox-eye daisies were absent around the cottage until last year, when a small clump appeared beside the stone steps which lead from the yard down to the river’s edge. This spring, it’s still just the single patch—though the clump has expanded in size fourfold. The plants expand via their root system and also self-seed. And it’s this ready inclination for spreading that causes some to classify the ox-eye daisy as invasive. However, this disfavor may not be quite as appropriate as it once was, especially east of the Rockies. Our landscape has changed dramatically with time. Yesterday’s farms and fields are now shopping centers and subdivisions. The ox-eye daisy is not near the agricultural threat it once was. In fact, in many areas ox-eye daisies have all but disappeared—and you’ll have to look long and hard to find a stand of daisies vast enough to be mistaken as one of those poetic “June snows.” One the other hand, one man’s noxious weed is often another fellow’s wildflower. For the past few days I’ve been collecting a supply of the tiny seeds to plant in selected sites. I won’t see blooms from my efforts next year, but with luck, the following spring I ought to have white-and-yellow flowers in a number of additional daisy patches brightening up several darker corners. After all, I can’t expect nature and the river to do all the landscaping work for me.
* * * * *
[Dear long-suffering followers and readers: You’ll note that “Riverdaze…” has had another design change—the second in less than a week. And I hope the last one for at least a while. The overhaul I applied earlier made it difficult for some readers to see various parts of the blog and particularly the comments links and profiles due to lack of contrast. For whatever reasons, these difficulties were not universal, or visible to me, and only seemed to arise when you viewed to the blog after arriving here via a particular link route. Still, my original intention was to improve things, not make them worse. I actually like this layout and color scheme even better because it’s simpler, cleaner design-wise, than the previous incarnation. And with luck, it will work for everyone. But if you have problems (gulp!) let me know…]

22 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Ox eye daisies are one of my favourites, Scribe. They are beautiful in their simplicity. They are scattered along the sides of most of our roads at this time of the year.
Your new layout is fine - the larger print is easy to read - and best of all you have kept my beloved blue heron on your header.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Ox-eye daisies are one of my favorite meadow flowers, too. But as I mentioned, they're not nearly as common here as they once were—not that they're uncommon. Yet sometimes, driving along a country read, it's surprising how far you can go without spotting a clump.

Your worries concerning the blue heron header are unnecessary, I assure you. Regardless of the blog design, the heron will remain.

I actually think the larger print may be a bit too big; I meant for it to be one size smaller. But otherwise, I'm glad you like the design and hope it works better for everyone.

Wanda said...

We have ox eye daisies all around the yard area...our grass is mowed in away to let them thrive...I wouldn't think of cutting them...their cheerfulness is welcomed by me.

I would love to see them spread and take over our field...have gotten Blackeyed Susans established there and now working on the daisies...there are several clumps but I want as you say "June Snow"...which I have never heard before...but won't forget now!

The new blog color with the blue and gold accents is very nice, the colors and layout seem perfect to me.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

From what I've read on the subject, ox-eye daisies are harder than you might think to get established. According to several sources, the trouble comes when you give them too rich, too good a soil setting; they really seem to do best where the soil is poor.

But please, keep trying! The idea of a June snow is one I'd always consider worthwhile. And if I had the land and setting, I'd join you in having a giant daisy patch.

Glad you also like the new layout. Hope it works.…

KGMom said...

No comment on the flowers--but this time I did notice the style changes to your blog.
And the practically geriatric font size. But, I appreciate that.
I do have a question--when you redid your look, did you change the font and its size. If so, how did you get it to apply to your entire blog.
A while back, I began making my blog font just a tad larger than previously, but when I look at old blogs, they still come up in the small font. And, frankly, I am reluctant to go back and redo each one. The color changes instantly apply to all blogs written, but not font. Then, I also choose a slightly different font--Trebuchet.
Several comments ago, I said I was coming up on blog 300. Turns out I was wrong--I am 2 away from 400. I expect to do the 400th in the coming week.
Whew--should I write a book or what? Oh, wait--I already did.

Jain said...

When I saw your “June Snow” title, I guessed it would be catalpa flowers or cottonwood fluff. Daisies surprised me!

The blog looks great – quite readable!

(P.S., I once approved multiple posts and some disappeared, only to appear later, so my first may surface yet [when you're least expecting it].)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I wish I give give you a techno-savvy answer re. the all-changing font size…but I can't. I just switched over and this is what happened. And if there a way to make a global increase or decrease, I haven't figured it out!

One thing I have done is create a second blog—not linked or open since it's just a different name for an exact duplicate of Riverdaze. (Exact meaning about a dozen postings and their photos, with all the page elements, head and header shot, font settings, etc. identical.) There I can actually try different templates rather than simply preview them, which dosen't tell you what you can switch and set and change and what you can't. But if I screw things up there—being entirely possible!—I don't lose anything since the posting and photos are simply copies.

Anyway, I'm still fiddling around on this version and if I come up with the answer, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'm glad you like this blog's new look, though I believe I will reduce the font size (or style, perhaps) a tad; looks a little too geriatric to me. I do with the gutter was a bit wider…

Wow, 400 posts! That's pretty impressive. And by the way, when I can get more than a few spare moments, I want to make a comment/question on your recent poetry lessons postings. I've enjoyed them very much.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I'm thinking your comment has gone into that Great Electronic Beyond forever….Sorry if I messed it up, and I appreciate you resending.

Anyway, what I ought to confess about the JUNE SNOW title is that I did, indeed, set it aside in a draft for a piece about cottonwood blooms…but I never go a good enough photo of them drifting through the air to suite me. And just the other evening, on the way home from somewhere or other, I passed a yard with catalpa blooms which had turned the grown below snowy white. So I figure I'd use the title there. But when I read several old poems which called a vast field of ox-eye daisies a'bloom a "June snow," I switched again; too fickle to save it until next spring, I guess.

Glad you like the new blog look, BTW.

Val said...

This is my favorite flower. My most favorite flower.... Beautiful for the purity of its white and yellow and for its non-demanding simplicity.

(PS I really like your new layout.)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Val…

I like it for pretty much the same reasons…the pure, old-fashioned simplicity of color and form; a flower like a child might do in crayon, and a flower many of the finest artists who ever lived have painted.

Good to hear from you and glad you like the new do…

gleaner said...

Yes I like the new look format. Thanks for your little tip about creating another practice blog where you can view changes etc. without risk of permanent damage. I want to do some changes and additions to my blog but after the first major attempt resulted in confusion, I have been reluctant. I might try a second blog to experiment with some changes.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

LOVE the new layout!

It's very easy on my aging eyes!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gleaner…

Seemed like the safest way to me—and so simple I'm amazed I thought of it.

I'd still like to tweak a few things, and am fiddling around to that end on the practice blog. In the meantime, glad you also like the new Riverdaze look.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

I understand about those aging eyes, having nearly pitched a few fits trying to tie a trout fly onto a tippet, look up a tiny little road on a map, or read a menu in a restaurant.

If I do reduce the type size, ir will only be a dab. And you tell me if it's too much, okay?

Rowan said...

I love oxe-eye daisies too, they are along every railway embankment and roadside verge at the moment and look lovely especially when they are mixed in with bright red poppies as they were when I drove up to Harrogate last weekend.

Bernie said...

I really like the new colors you now have on your blog. Everything is easy to find and easy to read. Great job my friend.
I love ox eye daisies, my husband use to call me Daisy for reasons..oh well just to tease me.
Have a gread day.....:-) Bernie

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

There's a straightforward boldness to daisies, an honest "what you see is what you get" openness in design and color. They don't see to dazzle, yet they dazzle nonetheless by their accessibility.

I'll bet those daisies and poppies together were lovely.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I'm happy you like the blog's new colors and spruce-up. Most of all, I hope it works and is easy to read and use.

I'd say being called "Daisy," even without knowing the story, was a compliment. Daisies are certainly lovely and charming flowers.

Jayne said...

It does seem as if we used to see a lot more daisies than we do today, doesn't it? Very pretty, even if they were considered invasive.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

First, I can see! I can see all the areas of your blog - I LOVE the new color contrasts and schemes. Phew....

And daisies? We have a gazillion. They takeover our whole garden. We thinned out a good portion. Your lesson on daisies was fascinating. Who knew? :-)

again - the color contrasts and presentation of your amazing blog is wonderful. thanks Grizz.

love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

I grew up eating invasives—dandelion green, poke, mustard, etc.—and I tend to look at them as just flowers with bad press agents. Daisies the same way, along with dozens of other "useless" plants.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Well thank goodness we've got THAT settled. I begun to wonder about whether or not you could see the blog, let alone liked it. Glad to hear it's a go on both counts.

I'm happy to hear you're also a fellow daisy lover, and that you enjoyed the post.

I take it you're over your cold/flu/whatever? Feeling better, anyway—which is great.