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Tue, 09/04/2012 - 14:13 — Sarah Martinez
Garden options, inspired by The Lord of the Rings
One does not simply spend a ‘moment’ in the garden
J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional Middle Earth is back in modern-day headlines. The collective fandom of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR, for short) is eagerly anticipating the movie release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Dec. 14.
I’ve watched the LOTR trilogy a few (dozen) times. I always marvel at the majestic trees and mystical plants that play supporting roles in the films. I’ve yet to read all the books, unfortunately. But I wasn’t surprised to discover that plants play an even bigger role in Tolkien’s writings. Indeed, we have an entire Wikipedia page devoted to Middle Earth plants. And someone has even written a book extolling the plants in Tolkien’s fantasy world.
I figured it was high time our Geek Garden series ventured into Middle Earth. So today I present a trio of Texas-plant options inspired by LOTR.
A forest of fictional Mallorn trees shelters the elves in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Those who’ve closely studied LOTR literature say descriptions of the trees mention vibrant Fall foliage and pale-green Spring/Summer leaves. I offer Chinese Pistache as a symbolic representation. This Texas-tough shade tree has outstanding Fall color—scarlet, crimson, orange…sometimes even yellow tones. As years go by, Chinese Pistache becomes increasingly dense and shapely. Surely a tree befitting resident elves, no?
Moviegoers will know the fictional Athelas as the herb Aragorn used to treat Frodo’s wounds in the first LOTR film. Several diehard fans say Athelas was based on the real-world plant Chimaphila umbellate—also known as Umbellate Wintergreen. That’s not much help for our Geek Garden missive, though, since it doesn’t grow in Texas. Standard Wintergreen (Eastern Teaberry) is another dead end. It’s more prevalent in the Eastern U.S. The best option I can muster for us Texas gardeners is Mint. This tough and hardy herb is readily available in retail nurseries. And a soothing Mint tea has healing properties, right? I rest my case.
This fictional star-shaped white flower figured prominently in the second film in the LOTR trilogy. My Geek Garden equivalent for Simbelmynë is Angel’s Trumpet (Datura spp.). The white-flower variety of this vine is absolutely enchanting with its evening fragrance and trumpet shaped blooms.
Now it’s your turn to join me in the Geek Garden. Give us some other plants that deserve a mention! Is there a LOTR horticulture favorite I failed to mention? Comment below and weigh in. Also, let us know which pop culture phenomenon we should cover in our next installment of Geek Garden. Should we, perhaps, go sci-fi this time?