Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Soapwort's Sweet Fragrance and Stately Beauty
The downward spiral has begun. Well, it began back in June, on the first day of summer. Now, the sun sets a wee bit sooner and rises just a touch later. And one of my favorite wild plants, soapwort, Saponaria officinalis, comes into bloom at this specific sun time.
It took me years to get this lovely flower established at my place. Seeds failed and transplants died. But eventually, I managed to coax two or three plants into existence. And from them, this European biennial took hold and now, it enlarges its territory each year.
Soapwort, so-called on account of its ability to produce soapsuds when placed in a vessel with water and vigorously shaken, has considerable value as an emergency form of soap. It has a gentle effect, like that commercial product that proclaims that babies won’t shed tears if they get it in their eyes.
But I rarely use soapwort as soap. The double flowers, white-and-pink, have a delicious, I’d say Heavenly aroma. Besides that, I just like to look at them. They are wicked pretty.
Soapwort, like most of our other favorite wild plants, has a brief window where it sets flowers, the flowers get pollinated by visiting insects and then produces seeds. The flowering cycle doesn’t last more than two weeks, but during that time the soapwort in front of my house gives me two weeks of sweet fragrance and old-fashioned, stately beauty.
Could anyone ask more of any wild plant?