Sweet William flowers - uncultivated beauty

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 08/01/2009 - 12:01.
Sweet William flowers - uncultivated beauty

 

I went to drop in on a friend who has an old house in the woods – it didn’t seem like he was home so I walked around to the back of the house to see if he was working outside or whatever.  
 
What I stumbled on was a spectacular patch of sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) in full and perfect bloom. (image above)
 
The flowers were variegated in color from pure white to an almost purple red-black. Different zones  in the patch had predominantly more of one color – it appeared that the cross pollenization of the flowers was taking place very locally – within feet.   
 
The patch made me think of Mendel’s pea studies and the variations on each of the flower petals made me think of snowflakes – no two being identical.
 
When I spoke with my friend later over the telephone, I learned that the patch of Sweet William had been there in the woods for about a hundred years, that it had been planted by the original builders of the house, and that as far as he knew nothing had ever been done in the way of maintenance or fertilization.   The flower patch had been ignored for a century. 
 
How is it that some beauty needs so much cultivation, while this spot in the woods is spectacular while all human care is absent?

 

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