Quiet Beauty is the mindfulness concept for the week, inspired by comfrey (Symphytum officinale). Comfrey is blooming in my garden right now and it is the kind of plant that most people don’t pay attention to. The world is a pretty loud and noisy place. The things that get our attention (in and out of the garden) tend to be showy and demanding. Comfrey is neither of these and yet it is a beautiful plant if we are paying attention. The purple/blue flower are delicate tiny bells. The plant reaches at least two feet tall, the leaves are long and branch off of a central stem, creating a miniature tree like effect.
But much of comfrey’s quiet beauty is related to its status as a helper plant in the garden. Comfrey has a deep tap root which helps break up the soil and also brings minerals up from the subsoil. Using the leaves in compost or for mulch returns these minerals to other garden plants. And because it can be cut back and grow at least three times a season, it creates a generous amount of leaves. Comfrey also attracts bees and beneficial insects like lacewings to the garden.
Comfrey is also a plant that regenerates easily from small root cuttings. Sometimes you’ll hear that it is invasive, but that’s only if you chop up the roots with a rotter tiller or plow. From my original Erie, PA roots, it has been easy to create new plants in Montana, Houston, Denver, and Pittsburgh. I love that all those gardens are connected.
It’s also a healing plant and has been used since 400 BCE. Comfrey’s common names tell you something about what it is known for and include: knitbone, knitback, bruisewort. Comfrey contains allantoin, a substance that helps cells regenerate and so it can be used as a salve or a compress for sore muscles, sprains, and bruises. (However it should not be used on open wounds or taken internally as it has been linked to liver complications. )
Comfrey has reminded me that many beautiful and helpful things in our world can be overlooked when we are not paying attention. So quiet beauty is my mindfulness focus for the week and my intention is to deliberately notice the plants, people, and circumstances reflecting that essence.
This is week 23 of my focus word experiment, in which I work with one word or concept a week as a mindfulness focus. If you’d like to learn more click here.