naso's song

that naso’s song may flower for all time


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Ovid’s Garden: Autumn

Autumn brought spectacular colours to Ovid’s Garden: brilliant orange marigolds which lasted through summer to the middle of autumn set in vibrant relief against the copper beech hedge, transformed into a spectrum of yellows, oranges, reds, greens and purples as the leaves changed.marigolds against beechNative to the Mediterranean and western Europe, marigolds are vigorous, fast growing annuals or perennials which thrive in summer, often late into autumn and for this reason has long been a popular garden plant. The marigold got its Latin name calendula because it was thought to bloom on the first day of the month, the day known as calendae in ancient Rome. It can also mean ‘little clock’, referring to the vibrant ring of sun ray-like petals encircling the centre of the flower like a sundial.

In antiquity the marigold was used as a culinary and medicinal herb, its edible petals have a spicy and peppery taste from which a yellow dye is extracted – a thrifty replacement for costly saffron.
marigoldMarigolds are one of the flowers with which Ovid populates his mythical landscapes in Metamorphoses and Fasti, featuring in flower-strewn meadows and settings of erotic encounter. They are among the flowers Persephone and her handmaidens gather before she is abducted by Pluto and taken to be his queen in the Underworld:

‘That one gathers marigolds, this one is concerned with banks of violets, that one cuts off poppy hair with her nail. These girls you attract, hyacinth; those you detain amaranthus. Some like thyme, others wild poppy and clover. Abundant roses are gathered, and there are nameless flowers too.’

– Ovid, Fasti 4.437-43

herbsThe last of the herbs have been planted: thyme, sage, rosemary, spearmint and blue flowered borage are all thriving in the two front herb beds. We have also planted saffron crocus bulbs, which will flower towards the beginning of winter and bring splashes of colour to the garden in the darker months when all the other flowers have died back.

It’s now been a full year since Ovid’s Garden was planted and it has come so far from the muddy plot it was this time last year! There’s lots planned for the garden next year, including an opening event in June which I’m currently in the process of planning – date and time to be posted on my next blog…before and after

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