Verbena

Wildflowers are fascinating because of their delicacy. The act of harvesting them in their habitat, digging into the bush to reach them, is something like receiving life, vital energy from nature, a gift that brings us humanity forward. For me, these moments are a ritual that I experience silently. I always go for a walk with a good pair of scissors, whether on foot or in a car. We never know what will be found. I always return to the places of past flowering, and how good it is to find them again. Some species never spread. They are restricted to small bushes at different points, lighting their colors among the grasses. I do not harvest these, for fear that they will disappear, and I hope that one day they will multiply. I try to spread their seeds, but I am not always successful. They don't seem to want to leave their seats. Some disappear in the winter, reappear in the spring, others in the summer, in profusion, others give their show in the fall. Throughout the year I revisit them. We often have beautiful surprises when we find a natural garden, as it happened this summer, along the dirt road next to a stream.


Lots of Verbena bonarensis, deep purple flower balls with strong stems of more than five feet tall. I had never seen them there. What a colorful beauty, with wild carrots (Daucus carotas) and their white flowers arranged in small bouquets alternating in masses between upright and velvety cattails. The scissors will be useful now. I must be very careful where I walk so as not to step on a snake, yes, for they can be there and we are the intruders, or falling into a hole or brushing a thicket. A lot of delicacy is necessary in order not to hurt the plant by fraying the branch when cutting the flower, and not hurting it. I harvest only a few, only those that will fit in the chosen pot, leaving many to the plant so that the seeds form and propagate, and the branches sprout. As I embrace the flowers, I imagine them in the small garden harmonizing with each other. Further on, growing in a dry ravine, many tufts of fennel with yellow flowers exude the peculiar scent and I think they would be most welcome.


When we approach these small wildflowers most of the time we are surprised by their aesthetic complexity. I like to paint watercolors of these flowers and their places. It makes me realize all the details and their beauties. Seeking the shade of the nearest purple, and the white with its so inexplicable nuances. Understanding its structures.


When I get home, I place them on the table below the grapevine that this year was stunning with its green curls offering themselves in bunches. I start arranging them in the vase I chose. I learned in an ikebana class that I took in Japan, that when we cut the flower stalk at the right height, we must do this in the water, so that when making the cut we avoid the stalk to get air in it. This practice will make the flower last longer. It is not by chance that the word ikebana can be translated as the art of conserving live plants in a container of water. Thus, each branch is carefully placed in its place, thinking of the other that will follow. Sometimes it doesn't feel good and I start over, to give them all their dignity.



For a few days we will have the beauty of the company of these flowers together, in harmony, the shining, the colors, and this will give us joy. We know that they will not last long, that this arrangement is ephemeral, but all this ceremonial that I went through reveals us in some way. This exercise secretly does an enormous good for our spirit, but we cannot exchange it in words, we must experience it.



writing, photographs and watercolors Isabel Duprat

March, 2021