Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DELIGHTFUL DAMES

Dame's Rocket is one of those non-native escapees from the mustard family that has done so well on its own that it's garnered something of a loose reputation. In fact, in some imperious quarters, the poor plant is dubbed downright promiscuous, a blight to the neighborhood, viewed by gimlet-eyed watchkeepers as a creeping invasive as insidious any beast from one of those old back & white monster flics from the 1950s. The truth, however, there's not much evidence I can find of Dame's Rocket actually harming any native wildflower, contributing in the least to some sort of habitat degradation, or causing the first smidgen of environmental damage. 

For me, the laughable paradox is that most descriptions of this dastardly foreign intruder begin with a sentence along the lines of…the abundant, sweetly fragrant flowers, in tall showy clusters of purple, pink, or white, blooms, are undemanding, self-seeding, prove excellent when cut for indoor arrangements, and are attractive to hummingbirds and adored by bees, butterflies, moths, and most other pollinators. 


Well, now! That's certainly a manifesto of botanical licentiousness and unbridled dastardly intent!


You call this a bad plant? Gimmie a break! 


Personally, I suspect the motive of naysaying and disfavor comes from an ego-based jealousy of anything that's obviously successful without our "help." We want to be in control. When a plant slips over the garden wall and decides to strike out on its own, we immediately seek to condemn and quell the adventurous truant.

Yeah, I've seen Dame's Rocket blooming in dense monotypic patches along roadways, woodland edges, and in corners of forgotten fields. But I'm still not convinced they're doing anything other than mostly brightening and beautifying an otherwise drab waste area.  

Dame's Rocket was brought from Europe to North America during the 1600s. It has been grown in gardens since at least the days of the Roman Empire. The genus name, Hesperis, comes from the Greek and refers to evening—which is the time you'll find the delicious scent of the Dame's Rocket's blooms are at their aromatic best. The plants do just fine in fairly well-drained soil, and anything from full sun to light shade.  

Okay, so you think I'm obviously a smitten fan—blinded by their lovely leggy looks, lost in their heady perfume, and thrilled by their independent spirit. Well, you got me—guilty as charged, and moreover, blissfully and forever unrepentant. Of course, I've always been delighted by such dames…
———————

18 comments:

Kelly said...

Hahaha! You crack me up...loved the post, and the flower!

Julie Baumlisberger said...

I share your admiration for them - I have a patch I try to keep small in my flower beds!

ellen abbott said...

sounds like something I need in my gardens.

Grizz………… said...

Kelly…

Hey, I calls 'em as I sees 'em. Besides, I'm always partial to bloom's in purple.

Thank you. :-)

Grizz………… said...

Julie…

Good for you! At least some of recognize a dandy flower when we sniff one. Since my favorite nearby patch of Dame's Rocket has fallen under the plow, I'm going to plant a bunch in my yard, too.

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

You do need them. They'd do fine and you'll like them. And in spite of the hype, it's not like they're going to overpower the landscape during the dark of a warm spring night and take over. If they show any desire to wander off, into the yard, just dig and transplant or pull them up, cut off the roots, and take the blooms inside to perfume the house.

Michael Bartneck said...

Amen Brother! I've had a few Gimlet-eyed's invade my space , but never Hesperis matronalis!;)Gimlet-eyed! You kill me man!

Jenn Jilks said...

Dearly beautious! Today we had a rabbit and wild turkey on the back lawn, with a bird on the nest in the tree house. After cold and rain for days, I was happy to see it!

Grizz………… said...

Michael…

Man, you gotta watch out for them Chicken-Little the-sky-is-falling! folks who see danger in every creeping vine. Some of 'em are the botanical version of TSA agents.

Grizz………… said...

Jenn…

Still cold and wet here—but there are herons and geese in the river near the cottage, a surprising number of birds at the feeders, various bedraggled squirrels, and vegetation that is growing maybe a foot an hour.

Made another big pot of soup for supper and built a fire to warm the great room. Now I'm heading to with an extra blanket.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz
great post, your laguage skills are amazing. Great pictures. And I love the dames - reminds me of that movie/play "South Pacific" - and that song

"There Ain't Nothin' like a Dame" :-)
Love to you
Gail
peace......

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Hey, that's just my natural quick-witted, glib-tounged, and brazenly smart-mouthed Irish heritage…which kept me in more trouble as a kid than you could ever imagine. :-D)))

But you're absolutely right…there ain't nothing like a dame! Love 'em!

AfromTO said...

I miss hearing what you make for supper as you often had mouth watering descriptions that lead me to wanting your recipes.

The Solitary Walker said...

You tease with the ellipsis, Grizz. We actually want to know more about the human leggy and sweet-scented dames ...

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

Except for the occasional restaurant vist, I cook every meal every day. Good eats have always been a big part of my life. If I've not worked any dish or meal into a recent post, it's simply because it hasn't occurred to me—though I thought I did mention a a bit about cooking spring greens not too long ago. But maybe I'm thinking about one of my news or magazine articles.

Too, I often just work off what's in the fridge rather than a set recipe—roasting, saut√©ing, stir-frying, etc. whatever I have handy, mixing things up in various dishes to suite the weather and my fancy.

But, fear not, I'll make amends.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

What a curious hypothesis—this fantastical notion that within a few elliptical dots doth reside some anthropomorphic allegory.

As if I were the sort of adroit scribe capable of penning such cryptoallusive sentences…

SariNola said...

I picked some of these lovely, fragrant flowers on the side of the road yesterday in Connecticut. They are doing so lovely in a vase in my bedroom. I set out onto Google to identify them, and thanks to your descriptive post, and I am confident that I have! Dame's Rocket are now a new favorite. Thanks!!

Grizz………… said...

SariNola…

You're welcome! I have Dame's Rockets planted in my yard, and still stop regularly along roadsides. In fact, I'll be posting something on them within the next few days.

I'm happy you found your way to this humble riverbank blog. Please visit as often as you like. We'd love to have you. You're always welcome.