Monday, February 12, 2007

"the definition of herb"

So many definitions for herbs - we call them useful plants, but those uses cover the gamut. One aspect of herbs are their associations, as in the language of flowers or the symbolism of certain plants. Certain orchids can be considered herbs: there is the orchid source of vanilla bean pods (a culinary herb), and the orchids that scent perfume (fragrant herbs).

My orchid is an un-named Paph. A tropical lady's slipper type orchid. A nutty perfesser orchid collector crossed two plants with yard long names: Paphiopedilum oberhausens diament x P. rothschildianum 'Charlesbourg', and while he was off on a collecting expedition, his greenhouse sitter took us on a tour of his greenhouse.
Given to me as a tiny seedling that day, it has bloomed twice in two years, the first time with one stalk, currently with two. Not culinary or fragrant, it is an herb of remembrance... I look at it and remember the cold winter morning years ago when some gardening friends stepped together into a humid warm greenhouse and were simply amazed.

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