Magnifying the Minute

I don’t know how this works.  All I can think of is that somehow, the joy-per-gram or the joy-per-cell quotient increases enormously at this time of year as the size of the plant-source shrinks.  We’ve just entered the first of three of the florally bleakest months of my local climatic calendar.  What there is in flower is ridiculously (you might even say comically) small.

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Nothoscordum hirtellum – discovered last year at the Collector’s Plant Fair in Clarendon, NSW. You’ve gotta understand that, as arrogant as it might sound, me and my bulb growing buddie’s aren’t much used to stumbling over something suitable to our climate that we’ve never heard of before. Once you’re over the affront to your arrogance (which takes no more than a nano-second) you’re free to access whole new dimensions of delight

All my psychological evidence would suggest that a tiny bulb with a flower (preferably not less than three flowers, but even one can do it for me) no more than a few centimetres tall can match, and possibly even surpass, the pleasure-power of an enormous rhododendron in flower in October.  How can this be?

Is it possible that it’s borne in ignobility?  Is it just a kind of reverse snobbery – that while I know that everyone is going to exclaim over the retina-slamming rhodie I, from my elevated heights (or in fact, my kneeling humility), recognize quieter, more sophisticated delights?  Is that it?

Oxalis massoniana - a non-weedy member of the genus (in fact I wish it would spread a bit more happily than it does), in a hue that I can't avoid confessing that I just can't resist.  That's another thing I don't get - that weakness one can have for a certain colour, and which eclipses all other hard-won discernment about plant purchasing, and insists on going home with you.  Preferable in multiples.

Oxalis massoniana – a non-weedy member of the genus (in fact I wish it would spread a bit more happily than it does), in a hue that I’m not proud to say that I just can’t resist. That’s another thing I don’t get – that weakness one can have for a certain colour, and which can over-ride all your hard-won discernment about plant purchasing.  I’m almost brutally resistant to the impulse purchase, unless the thing is in a biscuity or terracotta tone.  Then I’m done for.

And is this linked to some kind of privacy thing, that isn’t necessarily, but could be, snobbery-fueled? Fifty people at a time may be able to revel in the rhododendron, but when it comes to my autumn snowdrops, or my recently acquired Nothoscordum, you’ll have to stand back and wait your turn.  Right now, in this moment, it’s just me and this minute, precious, fleeting flower.

Or is it simply that I have a fundamental base-level of pleasure response, and when that has to be extracted from a tiny cluster of even tinier flowers, then extract it I very effectively do.

The bizarrely unseasonal Galanthus reginae-olgae.  Everything about it says mid-winter, when all conforming slowdrops flower.  But this does it's thing in autumn, when you're not quite sure of your appetite for it, but dutifully give it the time, attention and reverence it deserves.

The bizarrely unseasonal Galanthus reginae-olgae. Everything about it says mid-winter, when all conforming slowdrops flower. But this does its thing in autumn, when you’re not quite sure of your appetite for it, but dutifully give it the time, attention and reverence it deserves.

I dunno.  I don’t get it.  And I’m glad I don’t.  There’s so much – particularly in gardening – that wouldn’t be improved in the understanding.