Honeysuckle Days

Summer is here in earnest. We’ve had a little rain and the honeysuckle on the west side of my home smells sublime.

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Early morning and the perfume is strongest in the cool air. In this variety it’s the yellow flowers seem to release the headiest scent, the white hardly not so much.

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This plant has been documented since the middle of the 14th century and the word is in fact a misnomer – as listed in my copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1996:705). It was thought bees sucked honey from these flowers.  They can’t reach the nectar, of course, but hummingbirds do. We do have nectar-eating birds in Australia, but no hummingbirds.

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Originating predominantly in China, about 40 species of honeysuckle grow in Europe and North America … not sure what mine is. I planted it not long after I moved in.

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Did you know Woodbine is another name for Honeysuckle? When I was a child I knew that word as a cigarette brand. When I sang in choir that Robert Burns’ song “Ye Banks and Braes ” I imagined spirals of smoke around the roses. 

Oft hae I been by bonnie Doon
To see the rose and woodbine twine.

I wonder where I smelt and saw honeysuckle for the first time? They say honeysuckle symbolises happiness.

A filbert-hedge with wild-briar overtwined,
And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind
Upon their summer thrones.John KeatsI Stood Tiptoe Upon a Little HillPoems (1817).

Isn’t Keats’ image of honeysuckle flowers as thrones just right? He must have studied the flowers close up and from every angle, like a child.For the dreamy amongst us, Woodbine appears in wedding ceremonies to represent the love that clings without harming anyone. Among the French, giving honeysuckle to a partner represents generous love, and in China dreaming of honeysuckle means passion. 

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Honeysuckle Hero Susan Weeks was Inspector Foyle’s driver in the British TV series “Foyle’s War” … seems she was born when the honeysuckle was in full bloom. 

Oops. I forgot to mention Honeysuckle Creek our famous Space tracking station. It’s 50 years since it sent out the first images of the Apollo landing to the world.

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PS. This is my post for “Something Smelly” for Jenn Mishra’s Inspirational Photo Theme for Dec 16. #witsendtravel

All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law. 

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