Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
"Tiger Lilies" by Mary Oliver
They blew in the wind softly, this way, that way; they were not disappointed when they saw the scissors, rather they braced themselves sweetly and shone with willingness. They were on tall and tender poles, with wheels of leaves. They were soft as the ears of kittens. They felt warm in recognition of the summer day. A dozen was plenty. I held them in my arms. They were silent the way the deepest water is silent. If they wondered where they were going they didn’t show it, as they sprinkled freely over my shirt and my hands their precious gold dust.
I am a discerning flower-picker, with an understanding of what is native or invasive, abundant or rare. For example, I would perhaps cut tiger lilies I cultivated but not the wild species. I love flowers/cut greenery adorning my home. I may even have a vase problem. But I'm not sure how willing the flowers I cut are. What if picking flowers "results in unrequited pollen, lonely stigmas, hollow ovules and crushed dreams", to quote myself.
In actuality, I don't spend much time pondering such issues with dishes to wash, meals to cook and medicine to make, but I still wouldn't assume that the plants I harvest for food, medicine and beauty are especially willing, considering they have their own reproductive agendas. I am grateful to live around wild places with abundant "weedy" flowers and to have my own garden flowers. In the spirit of open-mindedness, I will entertain the idea that maybe the flowers enjoy the love and adoration of the vase limelight, even if it means forgoing seeds.
Meet The Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea
JULIET BLANKESPOOR founded the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in 2007 and serves as the school’s primary instructor and Creative Director. She's been a professional plant-human matchmaker for close to three decades. Juliet caught the plant bug when she was nineteen and went on to earn a degree in Botany. She's owned just about every type of herbal business you can imagine: an herbal nursery, a medicinal products business, a clinical practice, and now, an herbal school.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession with her writing and photography in her online programs and here on her personal blog, Castanea. She's writing her first book: Cultivating Medicinal Herbs: Grow, Harvest, and Prepare Handcrafted Remedies from Your Home Garden. Juliet and her houseplants share a home with her family and herb books in Asheville, North Carolina.
Learn more about cultivation, identification, and uses for medicinal herbs in our 1,000-hour Herbal Immersion Program, which is the most comprehensive handcrafted online herbal course out there.