The World Is So Full
September 06 2020
Fringed Grass of Parnassus is a tiny wildflower that I’ve seen growing near Memorial Falls by Neihart, Montana in the Little Belt Mountains. It is not a grass and is obviously not growing on Mount Parnassus, though presumably there is a closely related tiny wildflower first discovered and named in Greece. I cannot get over my astonishment for this flower.
It is a tiny, white, five petalled flower with each petal delicately fringed and the bottom and having fine greenish stripes. There are five white stamens alternating with five sterile yellow stamens and one flower per stem. Leaves are basal (at the base), except for one tiny leaf clasping the stem, and are usually hidden under the vegetation from other plants as it grows in lush wetlands or along streambanks. Be sure and take a hand lens with you or you will miss the amazing detail of this flower, for it is about three fourths of an inch wide if that.
I can not help but be astounded by this flower. To me, is speaks of all the wonders of the world encapsulated in tiny perfection. Imagine-a Greek name in Montana mountains, an exquisite collection of floral details and to what end? None perhaps, except the random adherence to nature’s laws and man’s ability to take notice.
In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson--”The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” Yes, indeed. Whether the wonders are hiding in plain sight along a mountain creek or some small beauty you have created in your yard, all it takes is the noticing. Open your eyes, it’s there.
Anyone who so much as plants a petunia in a pot on their porch is partaking in the endless human fascination for nature’s wonders, for gardening is an act of creation, creating something beautiful.
I used to get so immersed in the endless work of the garden that I sometimes didn’t notice the flowers blooming, let alone things as ephemeral as the evening slant of light briefly illuminating a delicate leaf of the ash-leaf spirea or a slight breeze ruffling the prairie switch grass. There are a thousand wonders, large and small, waiting for me to notice. Aren’t we lucky!
Fringed Grass of Parnassus, Parnassia fimbriata, native to western North America