Saturday, August 14, 2010

Assumption Day and Our Lady's Bower


Tomorrow, August 15, is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating the day Our Lady was taken into heaven.

According to the flower calendar in the Collectanea of Vincent Stuckey Lean (1820-1899), the blossoms of a certain plant fall around Assumption Day:

"When Mary left us here below,
The Virgin's Bower begins to blow."

The plant V.S. Lean is referring to is Clematis vitalba, known in Catholic horticulture as "Virgin's Bower" or "Our Lady's Bower". The idea is that the plant makes a bedchamber for Our Blessed Mother.

Clematis vitalba is a member of the ranunculus family. It is a climbing vine with medium green leaves shaped like elongated hearts. The plant grows vigorously and forms a canopy or thicket. It blooms during the summer with starry white blossoms. When the blossoms fall, they leave greenish seed heads. As the seed heads ripen, tufts of wispy, silver fibers emerge. The seed heads and fibers are lovely in winter.

You can read more about the plant here.

Image:
Clematis vitalba, from Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

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