Collecting Nature’s Gifts

During a recent rare break in the fast and furious action that is life at Fairegarden, there was some introspective pondering.

An online social media type conversation with friend Helen of Gardening With Confidence brought to the frontal lobes the memory of a collection resting comfortably in the shed. The shed is a repository of odds and ends including garden tools, drying seed heads, pots, stakes and ephemera of nature, twig and vine wreaths, bits of moss and some collections in coffee cans. There has been housecleaning in the shed nearly every year, with much stuff going into the recycle or compost bin. The can labeled tree fungus has always escaped the heave ho, even being moved twice with all of our earthly goods from Tennessee to Texas and back to Tennessee before landing permanently in the shed. This canister was brought down the slope and into the warm house, contents dumped rudely but delicately onto the rug by the sliders in the sunny addition.

These fungus were collected from the stacks of rapidly decaying firewood at the back of the wooded acre at our first Tennessee home. They are wonders of nature, all.

The colors have been preserved inside the dark metal can. The collection had been allowed to dry out thoroughly before being stored inside. There were craft uses involving a hot glue gun of which the fungus made a fantastical decorative material.

Over the years, decades, there has been a gradual change in home furnishing taste preferences. From Country Blue in the 1970s and 80s, to more fashionable neutrals in the mid 90s to our Black Phase as the new millenium began, the switch from man made to nature made accompanied the color wheel spinning. Fancy framed paintings have given way to wreaths of roots and bird nests. Dried unpainted gourds have taken the place of fine china vases. Feathers and dried grasses are the floral arrangements. Beguiling rocks and collected sea shells adorn tabletops. Bits of bark, pinecones, well, you get the idea, are what seem most beautiful. The magic always was there for me in the artistry of nature, it now takes center stage as the accumulation of a lifetime is sifted and sorted to keep only the best and most revered. It is the productions of nature that are held most dear in my heart now.

Oh, and the thing that was being sought in the shed, triggered with the mention by Helen of her collection of same was my grandmother’s collection of flower frogs. Not frogs made in the form of flowers, but little gadgets to hold the stems of cut flowers aright in vases.

Lowly utilitarian objects of metal and ceramic, they hold a place in a mind’s eye of blousey bunches of Peonies drooping and dropping petals on the kitchen table in my grandmother’s kitchen.

So we end this winding tale with a hearty Happy Valentine’s Day from us to you, dear readers! Sweets for the sweets!


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14 Responses to Collecting Nature’s Gifts

  1. Your fungi are beautiful! I am partial to all things nature made especially in home decor. Happy Valentine’s Day Frances!

    Hi Karin, thanks so much and a very happy Valentine’s Day to you as well. It seems now the most humble have taken over the more ornate in my heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. ddonabella says:

    love the fungus and the frogs….Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!!

    Thanks Donna, and the same good wishes back to you and yours! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Love your fungi! Thanks for the shout out. There is just something so charming about a floral frog. I need to dust off my collection and settle some stems inside. H.

    Hi Helen, thanks for sparking my trip up to the shed with the frog chat! They are charming and useful. I love the little metal cage ones most. Happy Valentine’s Day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Layanee says:

    So you don’t just collect plants! I want to see full frogs this upcoming season.

    Hi Layanee, we used to have a bit of an obsession about collecting stuff, like it says on the back of the toy packages nowadays, *Collect them all!*. I tried. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. gail says:

    Happy Valentines Day my dear friend. I love the frog collection and saw a marvelous cobalt blue one at an antique store on Saturday. It would look splendid with your grandmother’s collection! Seeing the fungi reminds me of those marvelous fungi shelf planters we saw in Buffalo. Weren’t they fabulous! Have a great day in the garden~it’s already warm out there…xxoogail

    Happy Valentine’s Day back to you dear Gail. Cobalt was another of my obsessive collections back in the day. I have recovered from that, now, but it sure would be tempting! I was hoping to find some larger fungi like we saw on that fence in Buffalo. I am sure at one time I had some in a can, but they seem to be gone now. Warm here, too. There will be outdoor activity today! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sharon says:

    Happy Valentines Day! I brought my rose seeds out of the fridge and some more have germinated. I think next year I’ll wait till January before putting the seeds in egg cartons filled with soil after giving them an overnight soak in water with a little bit of bleach solution. I used perlite this time, I’ll use seed starting mix next year. More have sprouted for me, the first one dampened off, it’s just too cold for them yet.

    Hi Sharon, thanks and the same back to you. Wow, what good luck with your seed starting! I have a couple that have germinated with bottom heat in the greenhouse. We use seed starting mix with chicken grit topper to stop the damping off. How exciting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Rose says:

    Your fungi are beautiful, Frances! Now I’m curious about what you saw in Buffalo–did you include a photo of this in a previous post on that trip? Maybe I could have one of those delicious cinnamon rolls while you sort through your collections:)

    Hi Rose, thanks. Yes, there is a photo from Buffalo, here is the link, More Plants And Pals From Buffa10
    Sorry, we ate all the cinnamon rolls, but I am feeling the need to make more. I will save you one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. commonweeder says:

    The fungus is nice, but I am fascinated by the collection of frogs. It is only recently that I have come to understand how they are used. Now I wish I had a couple.

    Hi Pat, thanks. Those frogs are intriguing objects. Peonies make the most wonderful bouquets and would need the help of the frogs to hold those heavy stems. The few arrangements I make are just stuck in a vase with little thought. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Now, how did we get from nature collections to cinnamon rolls?? I had to laugh. This post holds a lot of things I like. My Sister was just telling me about a roll recipe then I get on your blog and see these. Well, you know what I will be doing this evening. I can almost smell them cooking right now. Happy Valentines Day Frances.

    HA Lisa, you make me laugh! The rolls are supposed to be part of Nature’s Collections, get it? HA again. They did seem appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Sometimes I am lazy. Hope your cinnamon rolls are wonderful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I’m also very partial to table mushrooms (as I call them). Nature carves them into such interesting sculpture. I’m sure their basic molecular structure gives the forms an underlying logic that makes them seem “right” even when they’re undulating into unique shapes — like snowflakes. Those flower frogs should make a practical come-back. Floral foam, which is typically used to hold florists’ arrangements in place, isn’t very nice for the environment. We should be pulling out the frogs and making them a feature… although yours look quite decorative as a group.

    Hi Helen, thanks for adding to the conversation here. I love those larger fungi too, like the ones we saw in Buffalo on the fence. Glad to hear the floral frogs might be used again as in days of old. Sometimes newer isn’t better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Love the fungi!

    Thanks Cindy. They are cute, aren’t they?

  12. Fungi, frogs and frosting! Oh my!

    Hi Linda, thanks for visiting. What a cute comment, it would have made a great title! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Lola says:

    Love all things from nature. You have quite a collection. And those Frogs, they are divine.
    Omg, the sweets look so good, but, I sadly can’t

    Hi Lola, thanks for dropping by. Sorry you can’t have one of the rolls, I shouldn’t have them, but we had company. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Fran Sorin says:

    Oh my…..what photos. The first thing that went through my mind was ‘Would this ever make a great subject for a Picture This Photo Contest’…Just superb. I would love to see one of them done in sepia tones.

    The cinnamon rolls? My mom used to make them when I was a kid. Scrumptious.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Hi Fran, thanks for visiting. The fungi are pure art. It was a fun way to spend a cold and wintry day, on the rug in the sunshine sorting them. Cinnamon rolls used to be the best part of the school cafeteria line for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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