Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row. – Old English nursery rhyme
|It's growing not too shabbily, thank you very much.|
That was what was going through my head as I was taking today’s photos of our first foray into vegetable growing. Part of our plan on moving to the country was to become more self-sufficient. Our vegetable garden is a key component in that plan.
Our garden has no silver bells or cockle shells – and not one of our pretty maids have sprouted yet. But’s that’s more than likely a good thing. They would probably just crawl, zombie-like, from the ground and trample all our vegetables!!
|Our fencing has kept the critters out so far.|
We’re making headway
But all kidding aside, our garden is progressing fairly well, thank you very much. And I have the pictures to prove it. We have a great start on peas, beans, carrots, swiss chard, cucumbers and squash, plus others.
|The "big" row are radishes. Thank goodness Henry or|
Bouvier likes them too!
Our mesclun mix will soon have to be dealt with as will our radishes – the thickest growers of the lot. Thank goodness I have discovered you can eat the greens. We’ll be doing that soon, because they desperately need to be thinned. This weekend, in fact.
We have planted basil and dill from seed (about 1 week ago) that have sprouted, and the plant set herbs (Italian parsley, curly parsley, and the rest) are all settling in quite nicely.
Our tomatoes seem to be getting enough sunshine too. They are growing strong stems to hold the weight of our (hoped for) future crop. All of them are doing well. Sweets, yellow pear, pink, heirloom, roma... I can’t wait!!
Nursery rhymes are weird
Besides the pictures I thought I would give you a little background on the opening quote, just for fun. As we all know, it’s a common nursery rhyme from centuries ago. But where do they come from? When you realize what they actually may reference, you wonder why on earth children would be saying them.
For example, another very common one – “ring around the rosie” – is widely believed to be about the symptoms of the Great Plague of 1665 in England. We all fall down? Grim...
|Beans and peas staked and ready for growth.|
"Mary, Mary" is in the same vein. Three common interpretations all revolve around the state of Catholicism in the British Isles during the Tudor and Stewart reigns.
Silver bells are thought to refer to sanctus bells. The cockle shells are supposedly an allusion to the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The symbol of the walk is a scallop shell. The “pretty maids”? Nuns. It’s indeterminate if the rhyme is about the actual persecution of Catholics or a lament for its disappearance in the kingdom.
You can still do the pilgrimage today, as a vacation. We have a good friend who has walked it a few times – not for religious reasons but for fun. The actual pilgrimage route is the same one as Medieval times. Each stage takes a day and you have a designated stop-over so you know where you’re going to lay your head.
It takes her almost a month, but who can argue about walking through the north of Spain in early summer. It is beautiful and relaxing, both by her personal account and her photos.
|The "other" garden.|
Another theory of the rhyme is about Mary Queen of Scots. This time the cockle shells refer to her husband, who apparently wasn’t all that faithful to her (cockle = cuckold). The pretty maids are her four ladies-in-waiting, all named Mary.
The third theory has to do with Mary I of England. "How does your garden grow" has to do with her childless reign that produced no heir. By most accounts she was seen as “quite contrary” to many in England with her attempts to reverse the religious changes instated by her father Henry VIII. Pretty maids, by some, refer to her many miscarriages.
Kind of creepy and/or deep stuff for children to be singing about, no? But rhyme they did, and these verses are still known today. How they became widespread is anyone’s guess. Some even cross languages and countries.
Weird, or what?
|These plant supports came from the Dollarstore. $2 for 3, and they're bamboo.|
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