Picking Mayflowers

I have such crisp memories of picking wild mayflowers with my brother. Scrounging around on the sun-splashed forest floor, moving decaying leaves with our bare hands to find a delicately scented flower smaller than a dime.

Trailing arbutus are not easy to find; their flowers tend to hide under the leaves. It takes quite a few flowers to make even a small bunch, but they were worth it. When we could find mayflowers, we knew summer was just around the corner. I especially remember the strong scent of wintergreen berries, squished underfoot. I can even now smell the scent of broken ferns under the giant pines. So fresh was the cool spring air, so invigorating was it to be outside exploring after the wait of winter.

Mayflowers (trailing arbutus). Photo from the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Trailing arbutus… waxy thick leaves, flowers with a hint of pink… it has quite a history. In Nova Scotia, it was declared the provincial flower in 1901, and was in use in publications as far back as 1825. According to the Canadian Heritage website, the mayflower was seen as a patriotic symbol- perhaps suggesting achievement in the face of adversity. It appeared on the buttons of the Nova Scotia militia, and on postage stamps along with the rose, the thistle and the shamrock.

These little flowers can only grow in the presence of a certain fungus, and they do not easily propagate. So delicate, yet so strong. Achievement in the face of adversity.  It is a picture of life and beauty, don’t you think? Despite the challenges we face,  there is beauty in abundance… even if we have to hunt for it.

So spend some time outside this spring, especially with those you love. Marvel at the beauty you discover together. And give thanks.

 

African Violets and Geraniums

Flowers in January make me smile. This is the time of year I start poring over seed catalogues and dreaming about what my garden could look like. Of course, those dreams never quite turn into reality, but I think at least half the fun of the planning is enjoying the vibrant colour on the glossy pages.

One house I have lived in had a great entry way with glass on three sides. Besides boots and coats and backpacks, I had one length of windows dedicated to growing houseplants. It was like a little greenhouse and my plants thrived year-round. I especially loved my geraniums in January, that looked so bold and triumphant as they bloomed non-stop while snow was just on the other side of the glass. They made my heart sing!

I remember my grandmother (we called her Oma) always had several African violets, and they always seemed to be in bloom. I would look at the different flowers and leaves and marvel at the similarities and differences. Some flowers were purple, some white, some varying shades of purple and white. They were fascinating. This fall, someone gave me an African violet. For some reason, it is the first I have ever owned. It is sitting in my kitchen window, and I baby it. I love the velvety leaves, and the lavender ruffled flowers. It makes me think of Oma, and I smile.

I also have an orchid that is going to bloom for the second time. It is looking very healthy- better than the ones in the grocery store! This too makes my heart sing- I guess I am a little like a kid in a candy store. I just love flowers. And growing them successfully is immensely satisfying.

Once I did a research project on plants in the workplace, and it has been scientifically proven that plants and flowers in the workplace can increase productivity and creativity. Fascinating!

So if you’re in a bit of a slump this January, consider getting some flowers and putting them in a place where you will see them often. It would be worth every penny. And I hope your heart will sing!