Twelve Days of Christmas: #7

Reposted from Dec. 20, 2014: Seven Swans A-Swimming

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By Debra Knapke

We have all grown up knowing the story of the ugly duckling in some form. Hans Christian Andersen allegedly stated that this tale came out of his own life because he was the different child, “a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet” (1) who matured into an accomplished singer and swan Kew Lake 9-92 crop

There are other tales that feature one or more swans.  The swan is used as a symbol of transformation, of understanding oneself and finding balance, and of having grace and inner beauty. And like the many other birds, pairs often form life bonds.

In real life, take care when you approach a swan. That gliding beauty may grace you with her presence, but she may just as easily attack, especially if she has young. A 30-pound flying bird with a six- to eleven-foot wingspan is not an animal to be messed with.

Swanplant (Asclepias physocarpa)

Swanplant (Asclepias physocarpa)

A different swan ornaments our gardens. The swanplant, a tender shrub, is a species of milkweed from South Africa. Its balloon-like seedpod is attached to the stem by a curved pedicel that mimics the graceful neck of a swan. It is difficult to see in the below picture, so you will just have to start it from seed next spring to see it. Sources for swanplant are limited.  One source is

‘May you cultivate inner beauty and find balance this season and in the new year

1 – stated by British journalist Anne Chisholm (2005) in her review of Hans Christian Andersen: A New Life by biographer Jens Andersen, published in the US in 2006.

Garden Topics

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