Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Blossoms Of Spring

Earth Day is a time to celebrate our planet, and remind ourselves of our duty to protect and cherish her health and dignity.

In some ways, the ornamental flowers I grow in my garden are an affront to Mother Nature's goodness. Developed by humans to maximize beauty rather than contribute to the ecosystem, garden flowers go against the grain of Planet Earth and her special day.

But when I watch my gardens burst forth every mid-April with form, color, and beauty, I know that these spring-blooming flowers fill me with gratitude for our planet and marvel at the miracles she brings forth.

Which is a perfectly lovely way to celebrate Earth Day.

By this time of year, the crocuses and daffodils have already come and gone; my earliest-to-bloom rhododendron is fading fast. But here, on Earth Day 2020, are the show-stopping blossoms in my Pacific Northwest garden.

^ When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a massive magnolia tree in her front yard and every spring it exploded in resplendent pink blossoms that eventually carpeted the grass underneath with a shower of pastel petals. What makes me laugh now is that I didn't really grasp the idea that this was a spring phenomenon, that these flowers came just once a year, and that this showstopping beauty signaled the beginning of a new season of flowers. 

Only as an adult growing my own gardens did I really lock in on the concept of spring flowers and the special joy they bring.

^ Red tulips invoke spring for me like nothing else. My grandmother always grew them, and my mom too. But these particular gems have been growing in my own garden since the first year I moved in. I planted the bulbs in the fall of 1986, and every single spring since then, they have been brilliant harbingers of the new season. Right now they're blooming in several different spots in my gardens, and in the backyard, amidst a splash of these hardy red fellows, I noticed one yellow tulip, the last representative of his color tribe to survive all these years. 

The reds however are still going strong.

^ Bleeding hearts are new to me. They're an old-fashioned favorite, to be sure, but not a plant I'd ever seen before planting them my own gardens many years ago. What I learned is that not only are they a delicate, sweethearted flower that chimes in perfectly with other, more robust spring bloomers, they are a little girl's dream. Perfect pink hearts that open to reveal what looks like a drop of liquid gold, many a time did I find my little daughters and their friends standing in front of a stem full of blooms, carefully and tenderly taking each one into their fingers, holding it in amazement, and then letting go to explore the next.

About a decade ago, my original bleeding hearts died after a particularly tough winter and I've since replaced them. I'll never go without these beauties in my garden ever again. 

* * * * *

I support Earth Day's more political and practical movements. By all means, let's lobby for environmental protection, attend rallies and marches, reinvest ourselves in effective recycline, and participate in clean-up projects. 

But all of our actions to protect Planet Earth are most effective when they are grounded in our deep love for Mother Earth. And sometimes, that love is best nurtured by enjoying the blossoms of spring. 

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