Sunday, December 18, 2011

gargoyle among the winter flowers

Having grown up in the north, I think of winter flowers as the bulbs in pots inside that are forced to bloom for Christmas and Easter.  Having lived most of my adult live in the south, I now think of the wonderful plants that bloom outside.   One of my favorites is the Sasanqua or Christmas Camellia (Camellia sasanqua).  Most Camellias are small evergreen trees.  Our Sasanquas are sprawling unruly bushes.  Most of the year they are just part of the green background in the yard, but when they bloom they are a sight to behold.

The dark green leaves are a perfect foil for the 2 to 3 inch flowers.  The flower's numerous beautiful dark pink pedals open to reveal many bright yellow stamens and anthers.

Several plants in the Camellia genus, including Camellia sasanqua, are used to make tea.  The Sasanqua is also used for other purposes.  Its seeds contains sasanquol, also know as 'tea oil'.  It is an alcohol that has anti-inflammatory properties.

While I used the term 'gargoyle', my garden statue is actually a grotesque.  True gargoyles sit on roofs and serve as spouts for the rain water collected from the roof to be expelled from.  Our garden grotesque sits on a large granite rock that is slowly being covered by foliose lichen.  Some day he too may be covered in lichen.

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