Gentiana – Gentian
There are almost as many Gentians in poems and books about flowers as there are real Gentians in the woods. Two sorts are to be found by much hunting through United States. They are the Closed Gentian (Gentiana Andrewsii) and the Fringed Gentian (G. crinita). The Closed Gentian is of interest because it blooms from September to November, but the flowers never open, remaining in large, bud-like form. The flower stems are 1/2 foot tall and the purplish blue flowers are borne in clusters in the axils of the upper leaves. The plants are found growing on damp hillsides and in meadows. The Fringed Gentian is more beautiful and less common. It is the most modest flower of our woods and hides itself away in the open places. The flowers are bluish and have a delicate fringe at the margins of the petals. Unlike the Closed Gentian, they are borne singly upon the apex of the stems. The Gentianella
(G. acaulis) is the blue, stemless Gentian of the Alps. The flowers are bell-shaped, large and blue. The plants grow but 6 inches tall and bloom in Spring. In Europe, this plant is commonly used as an edging plant.
GENERAL. The Gentians are difficult to transplant and if seed is sown, it should be fresh, otherwise it will not grow. The Closed Gentiana may be grown in moist meadows but they should have no lime in the soil. The Fringed Gentiana is a biennial which is extremely difficult to grow. If fresh seed is obtained, sow in pots. The Gentianella is the easiest sort to grow, requiring limestone added to the soil. All sorts prefer partial shade.
Thou blossom bright with Autumn dew,
And colored with the Heaven’s own blue,
That openest, when quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou waitest late, and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue-blue-as if the sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.
-WM. CULLEN BRYANT