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Odes

Ode to Flowers

            Flowers are nature’s ornaments. They show all of the colors and shapes that can be imagined and even more than that. There have been so many times that people see a flower that is so far beyond their wildest imagination that the observer just has to stop and say, “Wow”. The colorful bit of the flower is the thing we associate most with them; though nomenclature often is based more around the arrangement and coverage of the reproductive parts of the plant. Rather than what are really delicate, colored leaves. They are the harbingers of coming spring and show the heartiness of plants in winter as a few blossoms will start to peak out from otherwise bare trees. They bring color to the world, and it leaps and rejoices. The world renews itself with blossoms that seem so delicate and yet are often so hearty. They continue and persist through the strength of summer. The sequence and timing of some flowers is marked, particularly in the early flowers of spring: Crocus first, Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, etc. There are the common blossoms that show up every year such as penstemon and the rare treasures of a lifetime’s growth and investment such as the century plant. They carry silly and evocative names such as the dolphin flower delphinium. They carry the cultural heritage and history of entire cultures such as in daffodils Narcissus. They have technically descriptive names such as the aster incises (cut in star), which has a star shape with incisions in the leaves.

            The shapes and colors of flowers vary even within species. They have lines and gradients, loops and whirls, shades and hues. Most flowers have at least two colors to their petals and occasionally many

more. Their symmetry draws eyes and insects into their heart, which looks often strange. Botany, taxonomy, and the principle of evolution and survival tell us that the center is the core of the flower in its reproductive function and variation from other species, yet it is those petals that we associate most with our feelings and impressions of the flowers. They show all of the colors of the sunset, the sea, the sky, and snow. There may be delightful imperfections in a flower that give it a unique characteristic and surprising sense of anticipation as you wait for it to bloom. They may be immaculate, of a single color and the purest of materials in existence. The blooming of flowers can be so gradual that you watch the micrometric growth of each bud, or it can be so sudden that you are surprised by the very existence of the blossom from one morning to the next. It can be evening entertainment to watch a flower open to the moonlit night. It is the ultimate reward of a patient gardener to find a plant finally come to fruition in its bloom. My favorite flowers are white. Cherry trees in their early blossoms and full explosion of flowers covering the trees are one of my favorite things. Other fruiting trees also have this grand display in the spring and each brings wonder and joy despite its yearly regularity. I love to see humming birds and bees visiting flowers, for I can see the wonder of complimentary aid from different elements of the natural world. I look forward to each of the plants I have planted blooming, and rejoice in each of the wondrous shapes and colors. It is a big part of the tour of the garden that can be a daily ritual or the highlight of long hikes to see the plants that are blooming and appreciate for a moment the ephemeral beauty of the world.