It’s perhaps a bit early–though not too early considering our warm spring– but the lady’s slippers have arrived in my garden. Late last week I took a walk through the woods and encountered the pink variety (sorry, no camera!) and this weekend out popped my yellow variety ( Cypripedium parviflorum or Cypripedium calceolus, there seems to be an ongoing debate about classification): they always take my breath away the first time I turn the corner and see them.
I must say I do prefer the yellow variety; the pink ones look a little fleshy close up, with the flower resembling a lung more than a slipper! Thanks to the journal function of writing a blog, I checked in on my lady’s slippers last year to find that I had seven slippers, while this year I have eleven, including one stem that has two flowers on it! Words fail to contain my excitement. Here is a shot from early this morning, after last night’s thunderstorm (during which I had to restrain myself from going outside to put an umbrella over them): they survived, but are looking a bit put upon.
I was looking around to see how artists have been inspired by the Lady’s Slipper in the past and the present and found that ceramics seem to be the preferred medium for depicting this particular flower, which was once so common, and now relatively rare. My favorite discoveries were a beautiful piece of Staffordshire creamware from the late eighteenth century in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, a Whately jug from the mid-nineteenth century, and a lovely little vase by Michael Stanley Pottery.