A collection of essays on flowers in the work of Virginia Woolf: fiction, essays, and life-writing.
[If the black background and difficulty with colors of endnotes and links bother you, you can copy-all into Word and you should have a readable black-on-white version.]
Cherry Pie is the Victorian name for Heliotropium
arborescens, a highly scented
purple form of borage from Peru (Hogan 689).The
tiny star-shaped flowers are gathered in small bunches, several stems to each
cluster, and borne over lance-shaped, deeply indented, somewhat hairy
leaves.The culinary name comes from the
intensely sweet smell, rather like a combination of vanilla, cherry, and almond.
Cherry Pie appears twice
in Woolf’s writing, in a single scene that is repeated in two different
novels.In both cases, it is twilight,
and great hawk-moths are swooping and twirling over brightly colored flower
beds.In Jacob’s Room (1922) the
scene is set at the Durrant’s house in Cornwall: “Already the convoluvlus moth
was spinning over the
flowers. Orange and purple, nasturtium and cherry pie were washed into the twilight”
(56).Triggered by the “earthy garden sweet smell” of the flowers in
Mulberry’s flower shop in
Mrs. Dalloway Clarissa remembers the moment when every flower glows
“white, violet, red, deep orange” and “how she loved the grey-white moths spinning in and out, over the
cherry pie, over the evening primroses!” (MD 13) Considering the fact that EVENING
PRIMROSES appear in the 1919 essay “Reading” and in To the Lighthouse, both of which are set in houses overlooking the
ocean, it is tempting to suppose that Cherry Pie was grown at Talland House.