A Catalogue of Flowers

Walking the beaches of Manitoulin Island, as I did today for the first time since last summer, is my surest therapy.  It is always a journey through the flora of my unconscious, the unnamed and half-remembered flowers of my childhood. Though I could not begin to name and recall all of the growing things that I encountered today, or to explain the significance that they have for me, or even to relate the experience of coming upon them, I offer the following list as a memorial of their place in my history and in my imagination:

Sand Cherry (Prunis pumila var. depressa)
Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Purple Flag (Iris versicolor)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Pitcher’s Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri)
Great Lakes Wheat Grass (Agropyron psammophilum)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus)
Silverweed (Potentilla anserina)
Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis)
Starry False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)
Wild Rose (Rosa carolina)

Some of these plants are found in amost no other place on earth, though I have walked among them every summer of my life.  Others are among the commonest of plants.  All of them, however, have a rarity quite apart from their quantity and their geographical distribution.  They are, in fact, the rarest of things: the source and the reminder of an imagined history.

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5 comments
  1. Curtis said:

    Part of me wonders if the time to link and Latinise was really worth it, and the other is in a benign wonder at the intimacy you feel for these plants to go to all such trouble Luke. You’re inspiring with this one, not just provoking.

  2. Curtis,

    I link because I want you to know what I am seeing. I include the Latin because it prevents confusion with the many common names that these plants often have. Let me know what it inspires you to do.

  3. Curtis said:

    Actually it inspires me to be bewildered. I have lived in Grey Bruce nearly all my life, right there in Georgian bay, and have many friends past the ‘Checker Board’ as it were and I have never been to Manitoulin. I remember my dad speaking of travelling there when he still lived in Orillia, and being there when he worked with Ontario Hydro, but I have never been.

  4. TC said:

    I am sorry I have missed all of June
    and it looks so interesting
    I hope to catch up soon
    Best wishes
    TC

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