Conversations with a Moonflower by Christine T. HallA friend called me with a book suggestion. Its the greatest little book, she said. Ive already read it twice--once for fun and once to mark all the great quotes I want to remember.
She ran her copy over to me and sure enough, it was a darling book, small enough to tuck into a purse, but with ideas I would soon discover to be too great to absorb in one reading. As explained, its pages were indeed highlighted and underlined with notes. Completely intrigued by this little treasure that had so captivated my friend, I dove in.
The story opens with the authors entire extended family attending to what at first seems like a sad chore--packing up generations of memories in their grandmothers old Cattaraugus County, New York farmhouse, tucked into the sweet innocence of Amish country. One of these Amish neighbors extends an invitation for the family to come and join them for an evening ritual of watching their moonflowers bloom. Intrigued, the author and several others attend this strange event, and they leave intrigued by this magnificent, fragile show that occurs at night, quite removed from the bustle of life, missed by all but those who stop long enough to enjoy it.
When the author is given a moonflower plant to take home as a gift, the very nature of this night-flowering spectacle requires her to slow down, stop, watch and wait, removing her from her normal routine and providing new and magnificent perspectives on life.
It is these treasured moments of great wisdom, shared while waiting on and sharing the moonflowers show, that are sprinkled throughout the book, like seeds of wisdom propagated by the gentle moonflower.
The brilliance of the book isnt the originality of the truths illustrated within its pages--insights on making judgments and on the astounding splendor of simple things; counsel to bloom when were ready and to be gentle with ourselves; reminders of the power of simply being still sometimes--but rather in the way they are delivered. As the title suggests, they come through conversations Hall has with her floral friend, landing on our heart as gently as a butterfly, bringing no guilt, no judgment, only insight and peace imbued with encouragement.
I saw another, perhaps more powerful lesson in the book. For Hall, the moonflower was the catalyst to a different, less hurried, less harried lifestyle, but she shows us a broader truth, that wisdom can be found in small places and events all around each of us if we take the time to look and listen with our hearts.
We do not need a moonflower to learn these lessons, though Halls book contains an offer to get moonflower seeds. She shows us that the real key was in her attitude that night in the New York countryside when she accepted the invitation to view the moonflower. Some could have discounted the night-blooming flower as wasted beauty, squandered during hours that didnt fit into the worlds schedule. Like the Amish, Hall pondered the why of such a curious thing, and her answer? Some things are worth the wait.
Conversations with a Moonflower is a gem readers will keep close and return to many times. Though its lessons are genderless, it is written with a womans perspective, and would make a perfect gift book.
Moonflower by Santana
How Long Until a Moonflower Flowers?
Like many others, I plant moonflower Ipomoea alba in the early summer to fill a small trellis with a quickly growing annual vine. I anticipate the large, round and fragrant flowers, but most of the summer goes by without any sign of a bloom. I know from calls to the radio station and emails to Plantrama that people wonder why some of their plants take so long to flower. In fact, my moonflower, and several other plants, are simply showing signs of photoperiodism. Ellen and I discussed this in an episode of Plantrama recently. Or, as in this case, the hours of darkness.
White blooms, silver or variegated foliage and waving grasses give life to a garden in the moonlight. For serious moon gardens, plants that bloom only at night provide a backdrop for candlelit dinners and summer parties. Several plants bear the common name moonflower, but only one, a night-blooming relative of the common morning glory Ipomoea purpurea , is uniformly nocturnal. Moonflower Ipomoea alba is a tropical perennial that is hardy in U. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12, but is also grown in cooler climates as an annual.
Many Pagans love to garden, but a lot of people don't realize you can grow plants and flowers that bloom at night. Cultivating a moon garden is a great way to get in touch with nature, and it provides a beautiful and fragrant backdrop for your moonlight rituals in the summer. If you plant these lovelies close to your house, you can open the windows and take advantage of their aromas as you sleep. Many night-blooming plants are white, and give a luminous appearance in the moonlight. If you plant them in a circle or a crescent shape, when they bloom, you'll have the moon herself right there "as above, so below. If you're not interested in a nocturnally-blooming garden, but still love the idea of white and silver to represent the moon and night sky, never fear! There are plenty of silver, white, and even gray plants that bloom during the daytime.
The Moonflower in the Nighttime Garden
The moonflower must be among the most beautiful of flowers as well as one with a very romantic name. Imagine sitting in your garden on a warm summer evening, a full moon overhead and beautiful moonflowers blooming nearby with their fragrance wafting on a light breeze. Several different plants are called moonflowers, but the one most commonly referred to by that name is the Ipomoea alba , a twining, vine-like plant. The picture below shows a moonflower growing around a tree. You can see from the background that the photograph was taken at night. Others include Datura innoxia and Mentzelia pumila , although this one is also sometimes called Evening Star because of its night blooming habit, and usually the flowers are more star-like in shape. The Ipomoea alba is part of the family Convolvulaceae convulvulus which includes morning glory and the less welcome bindweed, one of the more difficult to eradicate weeds of the temperate garden.