Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foliage Friday: Arborvitae

All right, all right.  I promise after today, I'll try not to rave about foliage plants that might not do all that well here in good old hot, humid Houston.  But I think arborvitae is such a handsome plant!

Arborvitae at the Gardens at Ball
'Arborvitae' means 'Tree of Life,' so called because some specimens can live for centuries.  The aromatic leaves were also used for healing purposes.  They are often planted in cemeteries -- probably a good place for them.  They look best when left alone and don't tolerate pruning very well.  There are only five species in this genus: two are native to North America and three to Asia.  The North American native, Thuja occidentalis, was one of the first conifers imported into Europe, arriving on those shores sometime around 1536.

These plants are now known botanically as Thuja, but it's a relatively recent development.  I chuckled to read of the English distress when Linnaeus changed the name from "arborvitae" to "thuja" in 1737.  I'm afraid gardeners today get just as aggravated when botanists go around changing the name of plants.  We don't get used to things that fast!  I find I'm much more comfortable with arborvitae and it's been almost 300 years since the name was changed.

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