A lot of recognising your bumblewurze, if you are not the family member who tends it, is in the decoration. Ribbons, of various colours, are popular, alongside thin patterned cotton handkerchiefs and dangling trinkets – nothing expensive or emotionally valued, just marbles wrapped in wire, or interesting bottle caps, painted corks, beads from old broken necklaces. Some people choose to leave their bumblewurze unadorned, confident that they know it well enough to recognise it the next day, some devise tasteful colour schemes each year. The ‘traditional’ way of decorating these little hardly plants is to let the children loose upon it and see what happens.
‘Bumblewurze’ is a funny name, unlike any other plant names, except maybe the mangelwurzel, a large root vegetable used primarily for animal feed to which bumblewurzes only bear a passing resemblance. The eccentricity of the name was also readily observed in the man who thought it up, Mr. Diggory Ewehurst, known better to his friends and neighbours as ‘Digger.’ It is often mischaracterised as a mandrake variant due to the leg-like exposed root structures that it brazenly flaunts, but the plant is actually more closely related to the money tree, a small succulent with oval-shaped leaves. This is, at least, what the eccentric gardener claimed he mutated the bumblewurze from, using his unique form of plant breeding.
We have known for a long time that exposure to a source of radioactive energy, such as radon, has the potential to create deadly, cancerous mutations in humans. What is less well known is that the exposure of plants and seeds to similar sources has the potential to mutate them in similar ways, some of which are potentially very useful, rather than deadly. It seems that the bumblewurze was created in such a way in Ewehurst’s labs, developing multicoloured leaves and a near-imperviousness to maltreatment that makes it the perfect house plant. If the stories are to be believed, the bumblewurze also has another, more startling feature: it can get out of its pot and walk around in search of new pastures.
The people of Natnit Common, a small suburban section of Calewynch district, were used to the strange ways of Digger, as they called him. He was frequently seen walking his cats (on a lead) at midnight. He held a monthly sale of old junk from his house in his front garden, which tended to be ignored by all but the local children, to whom he was always very kind. His home was only half liveable, the other half being filled with old mechanisms, inventions, and mounds of papers and books. Folk called him a hoarder, but this seems unlikely, considering that many said that if they ever expressed an interest in any of the items in his home it would be quickly foisted upon them, whether they actually wanted it or not. He wore a distinctive knitted waistcoat everywhere he went.
The one thing that people readily took from Ewehurst when he offered it was the bumblewurze; it is a very pretty plant, what with its little round multicoloured leaves, and proved fantastically popular with his neighbours. Atomic breeding has several downsides, aside from the safety concerns (Ewehurst held all the necessary licenses), the primary one of which is that it is almost entirely random, with non-repeatable results. In the process of creating the plant, Ewehurst also seems to have made the plant unable to reproduce sexually, so the only way in which he was able to gift the bumblewurze to others was via growing cuttings. Slowly, throughout his lifetime, the plant spread throughout Natnit Common. The year he died, from old age in 1979, pretty much the entire district had managed to get their hands on a plant. The next year, to celebrate the life of the great and eccentric man, everyone proudly displayed their bumblewurze on their doorstop or window ledge. When they woke up in the morning, their plants had all switched places.
Since his death, folk have still been taking cuttings and spreading the plant throughout Buentoille, and today about three districts will have their streets lined with the pretty, decorated little things. As for the switching of the plants, it has never seemed to have been given any real explanation, and it doesn’t seem as if any was ever sought out. All folk will tell you is that when they wake up in the morning they will probably have a different plant, or none at all, theirs moved on to pastures new. On the street are little trails of potting soil, which the locals enthusiastically point out to their children.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Light Lunch of Saint Jigwyn
- Scenic Running Day – Get Out of Your Head!