Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ericaceae!




This thing has been on my mind ever since I saw the Arbutus ("strawberry") trees in Vancouver. The flower looked just like a blueberry (Vaccinium)'s: little white bell, closed like mini Swiss cow bells. Like down here...



Which look just like the little flower on the Gaultheria I found yesterday at the Urban Gardener.

At last, this evening, with chicken soup on the stove, I sat down with an actual book, my beloved and heavy A-Z Encyclopedia of of Garden Plants, thinking they MUST belong to the same family and yes! It's Ericaceae. Phew. I feel so much better. And it was really nice to see it all in one book, fast.

I spied the pretty plant in the shop, and snuck a berry, thinking it might be bearberry (Arctostyphylos, which also belongs to my new favourite family...) and being 90% sure it wouldn't kill me but immediately tasted my Tom's of Maine toothpaste...So I knew at once it was wintergreen, commom name of Gaultheria. The shop owner looked a bit bemused when I told her I'd eaten her plant. I could see the ripple of Lawsuits crossing her brow.

This Gaultheria is exciting. She told me Otto Keil, a grower on Long Island, has plenty of it. I heard about it a lot in Vancouver, for use in greenwalls. And it tolerates, nay, likes and desires, shade, see? You know how tired I am of prescribing the same old plants for shade??? It is beautiful.

I also bought a beautifully packaged, perfect comb of honey for more money than bears would pay, as part of a gift for Molly and Panio's wedding party last night. The other part was a super-heavy and (I think) lovely John Derian paperweight with a bee in it. Of course they may want to bludgeon me with it, but c'est ma vie. I just couldn't bring myself to chip into the paypal account.


For the party Constanza and I donned our best frocks, she in a superchic puffy coat, me in schmink, escorted by the suited (and possibly freezing) Blake. Got home in the wee hours. Party as parties should be (?): loud, busy; catch-up with people I know from previous parties and nowhere else; good music, flowing bubbly and winter outside. Only one thing missing. The tall Canadian. Soon.

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