Welcome to Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden), a photography blog with a slant towards gardening and nature. An amateur gardener and photographer, I hope to share beautiful moments with you through pictures. Let me know if you like them!

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On lichens, poems, and bears

Mosses and lichens are fascinating organisms, which embellish the rocks and the bark of trees in forests and woodlands. I have tried to take photos especially of the cup lichen below (it may be Cladonia fimbriata, but I'm not certain), because it always makes me remember a lovely poem by the Finnish poet Helvi Juvonen.


Jäkälä nosti pikarinsa hauraan
ja sade täytti sen, ja pisarassa
kimalsi taivas tuulta pidättäen.

Jäkälä nosti pikarinsa hauraan:
Nyt malja elämämme rikkaudelle.


Cup lichen

The lichen raised its fragile cup,
and rain filled it, and in the drop
the sky glittered, holding back the wind.

The lichen raised its fragile cup:
Now let’s toast the richness of our lives.

Photo: WSOY

Helvi Juvonen (1919–59) was a Finnish poet and translator. She published five collections of poetry in the 1950s, and a sixth one was published posthumously. Suffering from malnutrition and other health problems, she died young, but during her short literary career she wrote compelling poetry characterised by simplicity, humour, intensity, and inner peace. She studied small, apparently humble things, rocks, plants, and animals, and found the strength and value of them.  She also translated into Finnish poems written by Emily Dickinson, with whom she shared the interest in nature and spiritual concerns.

The translation above is by Emily Jeremiah (born 1975). She is a Lecturer in German at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her very interesting article on the poetry of Helvi Juvonen can be read at http://www.booksfromfinland.fi/2010/05/dreaming-a-dream-the-poetry-of-helvi-juvonen/.

Juvonen also wrote short fairy-tales. Pikkukarhun talviunet (“The little bear’s winter dreams”) was published in 1974, edited by a friend of hers.  To all of us that love bears, I highly recommend the following related material by the literary journal "Books from Finland":

A valid field guide to the lichens and mosses of Finland:

Kasvitieteen professori Jouko Rikkisen pätevä lajintuntemusopas Jäkälät ja sammalet Suomen luonnossa. Otava 2010 (2008).


  1. Such interesting blog. I loved the poem of Helvi Juvonen and I never saw before a cup lichen, great picture.

    1. Thank you, Janneke!
      Cup lichens are not rare here in Scandinavia. According to the book shown above, there are several species that look similar to the one in my photo. Perhaps next year I will try to study them with a magnifying glass... :)

  2. It looks like you have a type of tree moss like they have in the southern states called Spanish moss. I am fascinated by mosses and lichens too and really should look for a good identification book. Pretty sure I've seen cup lichen here.

    1. Thank you for mentioning Spanish moss, Judith! I hadn't heard of it before. It looks such an interesting plant!
      The lichen in my photo may be Bryoria capillaris. It has a dark brown relative, Bryoria fremontii, that has a nice Finnish name: kanadanluppo. :)

  3. What a lovely post! The poem is a small gem, and the topic of lichens got my attention right away.

    1. Thank you, Gretchenjoanna!
      The poem is indeed a gem.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  4. The mosses and lichens of Finland look very similar to ours in Canada. The cup lichens are so beautifully formed and delicate, and the poem enhances their beauty.

    1. Thank you, Lorrie!
      I hope to be able, one day, to take a photo where the sky glitters in the drop...

  5. Beautiful photos Sara! The mosses and lichens you have shown are similar to those here, but I am not an expert. No doubt there are lots of small differences. Nature is amazing, isn't it? Such beauty wherever we look! We are getting our first big snowstorm tonight- supposed to get up to 40 cm. of snow, so maybe I'll be posting some snow photos tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Linda!
      Here the snow has once more melted. I'm looking forward to seeing your snow photos!
      Stay warm!


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