Scary stories from a lovely place


A surprising number of the plants I have chosen to grow in my garden bear some sort of emotional baggage. Jasmine reminds me of Johannesburg – growing madly up telegraph poles and garden walls and smelling delightful. Rhubarb is obviously for Stephen and Ireland. Snow peas, strawberries and passionfruit were consumed greedily throughout my childhood. Proteas remind me of South Africa, and specifically of climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town where different, grand varieties grew wildly all the way up the steep terrain.

Other plants are there for their functionality or because they grew from cuttings or were being sold cheap at the place all plants go to die – Bunnings.

But only one of my plants is there because it kept popping up during my English literature degree and I couldn’t get it out of my mind’s eye.

Rue. I’m a bit of a sucker for miserable things, and regret is right at the top of the list. But most of all I love some of the Shakesperean references to the plant Rue; particularly this one from Winter’s Tale;

There’s Rosemary and Rue. These keep
Seeming and savouring all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.

Or from Hamlet;

There’s Fennel for you and Columbines:
there’s Rue for you; and here’s some for me.

And in The Hunger Games, Rue is the young girl who first saves Katniss from other competitors.

Besides being poetic Rue also has medicinal and even supernatural qualities. It’s protective; according to myth it wards off evil and mosquitoes (which are evil). It aids in women’s ‘courses’ and if taken with wine is an antidote to all poisons. It relieves all manner of pain and stems nosebleeds. It is a Herb of the Sun and is also called Herb of Grace.

I can’t get enough of these virtues in my little patch of earth.


See also:

On Rhubarb

On spring flowers in Jozi

On snow peas

On potatoes

On foraged fennel


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This entry was posted on June 17, 2013 by in Garden and tagged , , , , .
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