“The whole world is full of things, and somebody has to look for them.”
–Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
All the photographs in this book were taken on our property in the spring of 2014. The idea was to take pictures of flowers, so there are lots of plants that we have in the garden that aren’t in here, either because they don’t have flowers or because they don’t have flowers that we recognized as flowers.
Some of the plants in here are ones that we planted on purpose, such as the kale and the dogwood. Others are weeds, which are plants that we didn’t plant, don’t want, and yet are having trouble getting rid of, such as garlic mustard and dandelion. Some of the plants have great names, such as the deadly nightshade and the witch hazel. Others have names that make no sense at all—the bugleweed isn’t a weed, and the Christmas rose isn’t a rose. Some plants are medicinal, while others, in the right quantities, can kill a small animal.
But this is something that they share: all of them are more interesting than we might ever have imagined. Peonies are symbiotic, for example, and can’t survive without the help of ants. The dandelion can clone itself, and kale is a biennial, meaning that it has a two-year life cycle. And how about this: The strawberry that we grow is descended from five little plants that were brought back to France from Chile in 1714. Every jam tart, strawberry sundae, P B and J, is a result of the voyage of the St. Joseph exactly three hundred years ago.
As well, the majority of the plants in our yard, from the weeds to the trees, have been brought here from somewhere else, including as far away as Asia and Africa. When you look at our garden, you don’t see what Canada looked like before Columbus, you rather see a portrait of all the things, the people, and the events that have happened here since. It’s not just plants out there, it’s our history.