One woman's guide to erotobotany
As a teenager, Emma Padget read The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. It seemed to her then, Miss Padget says, that there was something missing from Edith Holden's 'delicate and charming nature notes'.
In Arranged by Flowers, Miss Padget observes, and records her impressions of, some of the earthier matters she finds going on around her in the course of the year - the unpeeling of a double rose's pink marshmallow labia, quinces bletting, foxgloves being deftly penetrated by bulbous bumblebees, the dripping of nectar and spillage of pollen everywhere. In an interlude to these vegetable observations, she finds slugs copulating slimily, amongst other bestial delights.
As she writes in the Introduction, "I began to feel arranged by the flowers I was witnessing"
Whether you read it as an ecolinguistics text or for the simple pleasure of exploring the activities of (mainly) vegetables on heat, this is an exquisite little book. Each of the 90 spreads has one of Miss Padget's photographs of a coltsfoot, poppy, echinacea, or whatever, followed by her reflections and observations on:
Here are her reflections on one page about a particularly seductive-looking amaryllis flower:
dripping and spilling
I'm going to lie down now. There is nothing tender here. No courtship. No romance in the kitchen. If this beast could wear leather s/he would. And thigh boots. And a Madonna bra. Those stamens are just six feel.you.up fingers. It's like being with your bad uncles and aunties at a wedding when the dancing's getting going.
And they've been spilling their pollen overnight. And those are drips of nectar that seem not to have been able to contain themselves.
Honestly, young nature seems unable to contain herself at all.