Why does it feel so good when someone gives you flowers? They are so small and light but they are so important.
You are walking along a forest path and all of a sudden you see a flower. Or a mushroom. Or a chipmunk. Unexpected delight. Shakes me out of my mind, and I start breathing deeper and seeing the glorious life and light all around me.
We serious vegetable and fruit growers are planting food plants. It is so easy to plan a garden of carrots and tomatoes, peas and lettuce. Straight rows in raised beds all neatly growing. Sowing, hoeing, mowing and growing. With a row of raspberries and blueberries nearby, just enough for the family.
With flowers we get carried away. There is no limit, no straight lines. They are indiscriminate and indescribable in the way they dance in the wind. When a person is coming into their true self we say “they are flowering.”
Lately, when I design gardens and fruit groves for people, I have been suggesting planting some flowering shrubs and trees. I have discovered them later in life than the other stuff.
Witch hazel is a Vermont native that thrives in some shade and gives a dazzling show of golden confetti in autumn when there are few other plants flowering at all.
Jerusalem artichoke blossoms arrive in late September and light up the hill here. I have been bringing people over to smell them. There is a hint of chocolate aroma in this native Vermont plant!
Elderberry blossoms can be made into fritters. You can also make a tea or even a liqueur from these native flowers. Or you can just enjoy their soft cloudlike look and watch them slowly become purple berries with a strong healing quality when gently heated into a syrup or elixir.
Hazelbert blossoms arrive in springtime, but you have to look hard for them. The male flowers hang down brown and are called “catkins.” The female flowers are nearby. They are magenta pink when open and look like very little stars in spring, to be pollinated into hazelnuts.
Flowering raspberries (rubus odoratus) have maple-like leaves, large rose-colored blossoms and nearly flat cotton-candy like dried raspberries that you gently lift off the plant to eat. It can grow in some shade.
Clove currants blossom two months or so before the fruit is ripe. These flowers are bright yellow and smell like cloves. I want to know where a plant gets its aroma from? Was it already in its seed? Did it mix with something in the air?
Come to think of it, where do flowers really come from? How does the large red or yellow blossom come from a small plant which grew from a tiny seed? Even if you tell me, it was all folded up inside the greenery, and the seed sprouted and then grew, I still want to know where it gets its delicious smell from!
I am planting a lot more flowers these days for no reason at all. I look forward to seeing them. Annuals have the most stunning blossoms. This year I grew a few I cannot pronounce and also some nicotiana and an amaranth called “love lies bleeding.” The first is fragrant and the next is daring. Sometimes I wear a flower in my hat or over one ear.
What if every time we were upset about something we found a flower to visit for a few minutes? There is something so calming about them. They are wise beyond their years. In each delicate flower is a lot of hope for the future. Did you know that every vanilla bean and cocoa pod and each apple you eat began its career as a flower?
April showers bring May flowers, but what do May flowers bring? Let’s hope it is something good.
David Fried of Elmore Roots Nursery, playfully writing about flowers and fruits and life.