Superstition – Unlucky Plants Revisited

I wrote this post in the spring of 2014 and rather to my surprise it has become one of my most viewed posts ever. Who knew that so many people were searching for articles about unlucky plants? Certainly not me! Anyway I thought that I would run it again for those of you that are interested in the subject or just like pictures of pretty blossoms.

Two old nectarine trees next to our "rustic" shed.
Two old nectarine trees next to our “rustic” shed.

Our old nectarine trees are blossoming again. I love seeing blossoms on trees. We have some lovely flowering trees in Australia  wattle, bottlebrush and flame trees to mention just a few of the native plants.  I always look forward to the apple blossom which comes and goes so quickly that you could easily miss it even in orchard laden Tassie.  I always think that pink blossoms would look lovely in a vase with daffodils but I never pick any. Why? Superstition.

Apple orchard, Ranelagh Tasmania
Apple orchard, Ranelagh Tasmania
apple blossoms on our tree.
apple blossoms on our tree.

My mother always used to tell us “Don’t bring blossoms into the house. It’s bad luck.” Well mum thought a lot of things were bad luck but she was mum, we didn’t argue.

Some of her superstitions were:

  • breaking mirrors – seven years bad luck unless you broke a match straight away
  • walking under a ladder is bad luck – well that makes sense, something could fall on your head or you might dislodge it (bad luck for the person on the ladder)
  • spilling salt  is unlucky-you are supposed to throw some over your shoulder if you do that. I can never remember which shoulder though so I do both.
  • black cats are unlucky – I love black cats and the worst bad luck I’ve had  with them is that mine died way too young.
  • peacock feathers in the house are unlucky – I never found out why this is unlucky, maybe they give you the “evil eye”? Some further research required here I think.
  • Putting new shoes on the table is unlucky – Don’t know where this one came from but bet it was invented by somebody’s mother.
  • Opening an umbrella indoors is unlucky – I don’t know where this one came from either. It’s certainly bad luck to be standing too close to someone opening one. You can get poked in the eye.

I don’t know if I really believe all these things myself but from habit I do what mum did – except the one about cats. I’d have another black cat any time.

I wondered about origin of the “no blossoms in the house” myth and googled it just now. I found that it was pretty widespread amongst my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. A lot of superstitions involve particular plants one of the main offenders being hawthorn or as it’s sometimes called in England, may blossom.

Common hawthorn.jpg
Common hawthorn“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This has just reminded me that two relatives in mum’s family were called May and Blossom.

Mauve lilac came in for a lot of mentions too and one superstition that I had never heard of was about having red and white flowers in the same vase. Supposedly they signify blood and bandages. I don’t know if mum had heard of that one as I am sure we did that many times when we had red and white roses growing. I also know that mum was not superstitious about honeysuckle because she loved perfumed plants and would often bring it in.

Plant Lore is a website that collects folklore about this sort of thing and it has some interesting information on it.  Most of the responders to their “Unlucky Plants” survey seem to be like me, warned off by older family members with no real explanation given. “Just don’t do it. Because I say so!”

One writer, a former nurse said that she’d been told not to put red and white flowers together on pain of dismissal. Even in the 1960s this seems a remarkably superstitious attitude and a harsh penalty. Although this is an English site I’m sure that there is a lot of folklore about plants from other countries too.

 

Red and white flowers are considered unlucky
Red and white flowers are considered unlucky

As far as I know it’s not unlucky to post pictures of blossoms on your website so here are a couple more pictures of flowering trees. Will I be cutting some of my pretty blossoms to bring indoors? Probably not.

Tulip Magnolias

nectarine blossom
nectarine blossom

Links:

TOP TEN AUSTRALIAN FLOWERING TREES

http://everything2.com/title/bad+luck

 

Which Way to go, that is the question.

The Survivors

My plants have had a tough summer. It was pretty warm and dry and with all the fires in the area, people were being asked to conserve water so I didn’t feel like I should be using it watering the garden. I did water my pot plants with a jug but then at the height of the danger, I left home for three weeks.  I wasn’t sure if I would see my house again let alone my plants but I gave all the pots a good soak before I left and the ones on the front porch I placed in a shallow tub of water.  Nevertheless, after being gone for so long I expected to come home to a garden full of dead plants.

English Lavender
English Lavender. I recently bought a couple of pots of this.

The ones I was most upset about losing were several plants that I’d bought in late 2015, two pots of English Lavender, two rose bushes and some Marguerite Daises. I’d bought them not long after David died and I planned to keep them in pots so that when I eventually moved I could take them with me.

The original pot of daisies.

When I was able to visit home again the plants were in a sorry state but they were not completely dead. The ones in the front which were mostly in plastic pots which dry out faster had been saved by the tub of water. Some of the ones around the back were in terracotta pots but they were all dried out and I wasted no time in giving them a good drink and cutting some of the dead stuff off. It was another week until I came home but I hoped that would keep them going until then. Luckily we had some rain that week which helped a lot.

Once things had started to get back to normal I had time to look at the plants properly. I am no gardener but I decided that the best thing to do was first to cut off all the dead parts of each plant and secondly to re-pot them. I had been planning to do that anyway as they had been in the same pots for three years. I had to wait until I could arrange to get some potting soil, it’s not the easiest thing to carry a big, heavy bag of potting soil home in your shopping trolley or on the bus but luckily I was able to tag along with a friend who was renovating and while he was getting his hardware I was able to go and get my bags of potting soil.

English lavender and part of the daisy plant.

I decided to split the daisies into two pots. it looked as if one half was going to die anyway. The rest I returned to their original pots with fresh new soil. There was not a lot left of the lavender. The French lavender in the garden has always been more prolific but I like the English ones, the scent reminds me of summer in England when I was a child.

I had bought some pansy seedlings, marigolds, lobelia and pansies as I like to have flowers around the house, it makes it look welcoming to potential buyers but more importantly, I like them. I put some pansies in with the bigger half of the daisy plant. We had some good rain in March and in between times I kept them well watered.

I’m pleased to say they all lived, even the dodgy daisy.

I didn’t rate this one as having much of a chance but here it is coming back.

A red rose on my rose bush.2016

I was pleased to see the roses looking more healthy after a few weeks in the fresh soil, they started growing a few new shoots and leaves. When pruning time comes I may cut more branches off but for now, I’ll just give it time to recover. It is quite late in the season for flowers, they didn’t flower much this summer at all but I’m hoping next year I’ll see some nice ones like the one in the photo above taken a couple of summers ago.

I was pleased to see new leaves.

regrowth on the rose bush.

Snapshot Sunday: Poinsettia

A favourite plant at Christmas time.

My Cyclamen has been put away for the summer to rest so I bought a Poinsettia. There are always a lot of these plants about at this time of year as their colourful foliage is  popular for Christmas decorating.

https://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/article/caring_for_poinsettia

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter L – Needs to have at least two syllables

The alphabet according to Cee: L is in..

  • Lavender – English and French
  • Apple tree
  • Apple blossom
  • Maples – Japanese and Weeping
  • Leucadendron
  • Lobelia
  • Jonquils

I photographed a variety of “L’s” while I was trying to think what to use for this post but in the end as the weather is so nice today I decided to go with all plants and flowers.  A couple are recent photos, some are from the archives and all of them are from my garden except the lobelia and geraniums. I saw those at a house in Battery Point. I wish they were mine, they are lovely.

 

 

English Lavender
English Lavender taken with my 18-50mm zoom lens on maximum zoom.

French lavender in my garden.

Apple tree in my garden November 2017

blossoms October 2017

Japanese Maple

Weeping Maple in my garden.

Leucadendron flower.

Geraniums and Lobelia

Jonquils

 

 

Spring in the Garden

It is finally starting to feel like spring around here. The daffodils have been and gone but they are optimists and usually start showing up while there are still frosty mornings and sensible people are still wearing their winter underwear. The rest of the bulbs apart from the grape hyacinths were content to wait till we had a few sunny days before making an appearance.

Most of my spring bulbs are in containers this year. I’ve had grape hyacinths, star flowers which are still going, the tulips have just started to flower and a couple of hyacinths are teasing me with lots of leaves but no flowers as are a couple of other pots of assorted bulbs such as the Sparaxis which has started to flower this week. The English lavender and Federation daisies I potted in the autumn have made a good come back as have two bargain box rose bushes that I bought around the same time. The pelargonium sadly didn’t make it. I’m not sure why. The polyanthuses and pansy seedlings I planted have come up a treat too except for the ones in the bottom of the bird bath/ planter. I had my doubts about those though, it seemed rather a  shallow planter to support anything much.

My lovely apple tree has  started to show some green leaves and the Japanese Maple some red ones. I had been watching the  new deciduous trees closely for weeks. This was their first winter and although I know they are meant to be dormant they just looked like dead sticks in the ground. The Gleditsia did not even have any branches to speak of but over the past week little shoots have burst out all over it so although it’s still rather stick like at least I know it’s alive. Around the side of the house the Weeping Japanese Maple has also started to show some foliage.  I bought it on the recommendation of Jason, one of my “garden guys” who has one in his garden. It was bare when I got it and by far the most expensive tree I’ve bought so far. David would have had a fit I’m sure, he’d have seen more sense in ten fifteen dollar trees than one that cost a hundred and fifty but it’s supposed to be a very spectacular tree.  I liked the weeping habit, that’s what I really bought it for but the foliage is a very unusual colour as well.

I have been out taking my annual picture of the Photinia hedge too. Despite the fact that I lost one tree over the summer it’s really starting to look like a hedge now and I do love the colour of the new growth. Pretty soon I will be getting the outside of the house painted and I’m thinking about doing the balustrades and front door in a red to match the hedge.  There are a lot of red plants in both the front and back gardens, it is my favourite colour after all. There are red roses, down one side between me and the neighbours and the plants in the border at the back have red flowers, the Australian native Callistemon and the South African Leucadendron. Neither of those two are showing a spring growth spurt yet but I’m hoping they will shoot up a bit over the next few months.

Here is the hedge now, this time last year and when it was first planted.

The birds are back too. I’ve started to notice more varieties visiting the garden as well as the sparrows and blackbirds I get throughout the year. I haven’t managed to capture any pictures yet because at the moment they seem most active first thing in the morning. I’ve been getting a visits from swallow like birds with black backs. I think they are “Welcome Swallows”; they fly in and perch on the wire that carries a power line from the house to the shed. I’ve seen a few finches, the Green Rosellas that visited a few weeks ago and this morning a pair of Superb Fairy Wrens. I often see the males who are bright blue and black and easy to spot, the females are a more modest brown. I read that juvenile males can also be brown but as it is the start of the breeding season I think this mornings pair were honeymooners checking out the real estate. The apple tree was very popular as a bird apartment block last summer and remained so until it was practically bare.

 

I started writing this post a week or so ago before we had another round of extremely wet weather. I had to wait for a dry day to take the last couple of photos and it is amazing how much things have grown in just a week. The maples and the apple tree have a lot more leaves on them now and the apple tree even has a few flower buds. The Sparaxis started to flower, I had just about given up on it.  I also have some gladioli bulbs coming up ready for summer. I’m quite excited to have so many flowers this year as I haven’t really had much success growing flowers in the past. That’s why I usually stick to daffodils and other flowers that don’t require a lot of skill to grow. When we lived in South Australia the climate was much too hot and dry in summer to grow much and our garden was primarily limestone and required a lot of effort to dig. We had things like Oleander and Gazanias although I did manage to grow some bearded Iris’s which were very pretty. I like the Tasmanian climate much better though because I can have the English flowers I love as well as Australian and South African native plants in the drier parts of the garden.