We used to have buses painted with flowers and shoes, backpacks, shirts, record albums. Donovan had an album called “A gift from a flower to a garden.” Even when we were young we knew there was something innocent and hopeful about flowers.
Now as a grower of fruits and nuts, I am surrounded by flowers in trees and bushes and in fields. The buartnut flowers (a cross between a heartnut and a butternut) are draped today across mock orange bushes under them. They look like little grapes in a bunch and have a purple hue.
Kiwi blossoms are different on the male and the female (you need both to get fruit). When you look inside the blossom of the females, you can see a baby round green fruit forming. The male does not have this.
Most fruit trees need two different cultivars to cross pollinate so we get fruit. That is of course why you plant two pear trees -they are called “pairs” for a reason. Sour cherries and peaches are self-fruitful. This means they do not require pollen from another tree in order to make fruit.
Everyone loves lilacs. Did you know their flowers are edible? I saw them used in cake frosting and they were good!
Siberian pea shrubs have yellow blossoms that taste like garden peas. Black locust tree flowers are among the seven wonders of the world. Especially if you like the smell of grape soda. I walk out to our locust grove and pop the blossoms in my mouth like fragrant popcorn.
Plants just sit there, so they need pollinators to move from tree to tree. We can help them by planting flowering, fruiting trees.
When mowing I leave stretches and patches of blue flowers and yellow flowers and pink flowers, because I like the way they look. They also are a refuge for pollinator insects.
These are not just honeybees of course. There are a lot of sweet pollinators flying around who are connecting the dots from blossom to blossom, tree to tree, so the fruit can be born.
Yesterday I saw a spider with a white dot on its back that looked so much like one of the blossoms in the tree. I am sure it has done so well because it fits in and unsuspecting others are not concerned about its presence. There is a lot of life in a blossoming tree.
All of us who were there in the flower power days of the 60s and early 70s remember the feeling in the air. We could make the world better. With love, with peace, with flowers. We saw that things could be improved. We would not be satisfied with same old same old. And our green planet depended on us.
Many of us plant gardens and fruit groves. Some of us write for or publish alternative magazines. Most of us work to be kind to our parents, our children, our neighbors, and the checkout person at the store. One of my great teachers, Shlomo Carlebach, said,”Who is our neighbor? The one who we are standing next to right now!”
When we were flashing peace signs to each other and wearing flower power sweatshirts, we had a taste of how the world could be better. Let’s keep that vision alive and set a good example in the world with actions that keep plants and pollinators thriving. A consciousness for doing good in the world is growing and pretty soon we will see the flowering plants flashing their peace signs to us.
Seen on a tea bag tag recently, “The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson and E.E. Cummings were reminding us to lighten up a bit and see the blue and yellow flowers along our paths today.
David Fried owns Elmore Roots Fruit Tree and Berry Nursery in Elmore, Vermont.
Painting by Gabriel Tempesta