Saturday Snippets 25 May 2013: Pudding for Wisteria, the Menace of Funeral Flowers, How to Change a Rose’s Colour

wisteria

A HELPFUL SERMON

It May Not Have Improved Her Soul But it Did Her Fuchias.

A Chicago divine tells the following story:  “At my time of life I ought not to be stunned by anything, but after service a good woman on my flock did manage to take my breath away. I was preaching about the Father’s tender wisdom in caring for us all,” he said. “I illustrated by saying that the Father knows which of us grows best in sunlight and which of us must have shade. ‘You know you plant roses in the sunshine,’ I said, ‘and heliotrope and geraniums; but if you want your fuchsias to grow they must be kept in a shady nook.’

“After the sermon, which I hoped would be a comforting one, a woman came up to me, her face glowing with pleasure that was evidently deep and true. ‘Oh, Dr. ___, I am so grateful for that sermon,’ she said, clasping my hand and shaking it warmly. My heart glowed for a moment, while I wondered what tender place in her heart and life I had touched. Only for a moment, though. ‘Yes,’ she went on, fervently. ‘I never knew before what was the matter with my fuchsias.’” Delphos [OH] Daily Herald 6 March 1899: p. 7

From England, too, I have this week received a new recipe for the plant that is sick or dispirited. It comes from Mollie Panter-Downes. A friend of hers in Surrey was showing an ailing wisteria vine to a gardening acquaintance. ‘Oh,’ said the visitor, ‘all that wisteria wants is a nice rice pudding. They love them !’  Accordingly, a rice pudding was cooked, well sugared, and laid round the feet of the vine, which promptly sat up, regained its tone, and is now full of health and pudding. There is probably a chemical explanation for this, but I would rather not know about it. Onward and Upwards in the Garden, Katherine S. White

FLOWERS, like friends  in adversity, are doubly prized in the winter— even the culture of them seems  to shed a ray of summer round the apartment where they are sheltered. Now is  the time to plant or put in glasses hyacinths or other winter bulbous roots.  The flower of the hyacinth is beautiful, its aroma delightful. It is a house  flower, and renders a parlor redolent of perfume. Hyacinths are grown either in  glasses or pots. Glasses cause less attention and trouble than pots. There is  another and a novel way of growing hyacinths that is very beautiful. It is to  scoop out a turnip and fill the hollow space with water and place the bulb in
it. Suspend it by strings where you please— the best place is in your window.
The hyacinth will flower and the turnip give out from its root a green foliage
that is superior to any flower-pot in existence. And then, if you have a choice
flower presented you, lady fair, that you wish to preserve as long as possible,
when it begins to fade, the following is an, excellent way of reviving it. Cut
the stalk and hold it a few moments in the flame of the candle, and then set the
flower again in the cold water, when it will recover its strength almost
visibly after this violent assistance, and blossom immediately. We met with the
following curious record of an experiment, which may be true, though we
do not certify it from our own observation.

“To change the color of a Rose .— Place a fresh-gathered rose in water as far as the stem will allow,  then powder it over with fine rappee snuff being careful not to load it too  much— in about three hours, on shaking off the snuff, it will have become a  green rose.” Godey’s Lady’s Book, February, 1847

Our Goldfish

We have three goldfish in our pond

Of whom my father’s very fond,

And they were given by his choice

… The names of Julia, Edith, Joyce.

But Julia was his special friend;

She swam the pond from end to end,

So long, so strong, so golden-red —

The finest fish, so Father said.

. . . But now a sudden doubt arises,

One of life’s tragical surprises:

A friend points out with skeptic air

That goldfish (girls) alas are rare.

A gloom across our pond is shed,

The water-lily droops its head,

The reeds are wilting on the brink

And nobody knows what to think.

Though Father still by word of voice

Addresses Julia, Edith, Joyce,

His tones the sad conviction carry

They might be Thomas, Dick and Harry.

— Margaret Lodge [1935]

In spite of the attempt to prevent the extravagant use of flowers at funerals, we still see on those sad occasions some new and rather poetic ideas expressed by floral emblems. One of these, called the “Gates Ajar,” was very beautiful: the “gates” paneled with lilies, and surmounted by doves holding sprays of passion-vines in their beaks.

Palms crossed, and clasped by roses and ribbons, an oblique cross of roses lying on a bed of ivy, a basket made of ivy and autumn leaves, holding a sheaf of grain and a sickle of violets, an ivy pillow with a cross of flowers on one side, a bunch of pansies held by a knot of ribbon at one corner, a cross made of ivy alone, a “harvest-field” made of ears of wheat, are some of the many new funereal designs which break the monotony of the dreadful white crosses, crowns, and anchors, hearts, and wreaths, of the past. Manners and Social Usages, Mary Elizabeth Wilson Sherwood, 1887

The reformers suggest that the notice of the death which appears in the papers should end with the announcement: “No flowers.” A novel argument against the sending of these tributes is that the petals of the flowers serve to keep the germs which are given off from the dead body, and in the case of people who died from infectious diseases they may become a positive source of danger, and like the bunch of roses which her jealous rival sent to Adriene Lecouvreur, be absolutely death dealing. Then again the custom of preserving these wreaths is denounced by many medical men, who contend that they, containing as they do morbific bacteria, are a constant source of danger and a menace to the healthy life of those who afterward occupy the rooms. Evening Star [Washington, DC] 14 February 1891: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The roses of Adriana Lecouvreur were the poisoned blossoms sent to the actress (according to legend) by the Duchesse de Bouillon, a romantic rival.

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One thought on “Saturday Snippets 25 May 2013: Pudding for Wisteria, the Menace of Funeral Flowers, How to Change a Rose’s Colour

  1. Pingback: Funeral Flowers for Young Helen: c. 1880 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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