The blossom and the bees

There’s a secret place I know where three fruit trees grow close together. And, when I need a little time to myself I scramble under the lower branches, dragging an old, soft cushion behind me and sit, absorbed in the healing power of nature.

I lie back and look up into the branches above me. The plum tree is clothed in creamy-white blossom and I give myself more than a moment to study the intricacies of this beautiful flower. So focused am I on the delicacy of the petals I don’t even notice my tumultuous thoughts and angst of the day slip away. All I know is I have found my peace in this moment and I am happy to stay.  I’m looking at the stamen, all clustered together like tiny golden-tipped pins in a pincushion, when a honey bee comes buzzing in.

As I watch the movements of the bee in the blossom I’m reminded of a question I was asked during the gardening hour on the radio. A gentleman called Gerry had noticed that the blossom flowers emerged before the leaves and he wondered if this was normal.

Most blossoms do emerge before the leaves and this is what makes their spring display so heart-stoppingly beautiful. The flowers burst out of bare branches with a glorious shout of “Look at me!” because they are doing their very best to attract the early pollinators.

Each flower wants to be pollinated in order to bear fruit. Whether it’s plums, pears, apples, cherries or berries for the birds they have just one thing on their mind. Sex.
A few days later the petals fall and the leaves emerge. The leaves protect the embryos as they grow, hidden from sight, whilst at the same time providing food through photosynthesis. It’s brilliant isn’t it.

There’s an apple tree close to where I sit. There’s still a few days to before the apple blossom comes out but that’s okay, there’s plenty of other trees in full bloom. I have two favourites. They grow on Ashton Lane in front of a block of apartments and, as soon as the they come out I know that Spring is on its way.

These trees always make me look up and I stop and stand under them for a moment; they are natures encouragers, reminding us to slow down and look for the beauty in our day.

Paddy, our old English sheepdog, is a very happy dog at this time of year too. Our evening walks are getting longer and longer as we stroll down roads less travelled to look for more blossom. I can’t resist it, it gives me an extraordinary sense of wellbeing.

Some of our favourite blossom discoveries are found in the hedgerows. These pure white flowers, born on prickly bushes, hold such promise. When I return in Autumn the flowers will have turned into deep purple fruits; sloes. They make the most delicious sloe gin which just happens to be ready at Christmas time.

The Japanese have a name for this flower viewing; Hanami. There’s a mountain in Japan called Yoshino-yama where over 30,000 cherry blossoms grow and this is considered to be one of the best places to indulge. Can you imagine what this must look like in full bloom? 30,000 blossom trees! On a mountain! I cannot think of a more perfect place for this nature-loving, mountain wanderer to be.

 

 

Hanami aka Hello Spring

I’m a dreamer alright. I’m forever dreaming of visiting far off places; exotic places, cultural places, warm places. Right now I’d like to visit Japan because I’ve always wanted to join in the blossom festival, or Hanami if you speak the lingo. Hanami is a celebration of Spring and I take my furry winter hat off to the Japanese for recognising that Spring is well worth a celebration. Thousands of people wake from their winter slumber and step outside to take part in the ancient tradition of flower viewing as the cherry and plum trees burst into bloom.

But I don’t just want to view the blossoms that transform the landscape, I want to immerse myself in them. I want to be so captivated by their fleeting beauty that I lose myself entirely. I want to drift dreamily through the flowery trees then pause awhile to gather soft petals from the mossy ground. I would hold them for a minute or two and marvel at their lightness before blowing them gently away and watching them flutter to the ground like confetti.

Then I would sit awhile and join in a tea ceremony under the boughs of a cherry blossom tree. Petals will fall in my tea and I will smile and idly waft them around the cup with my fingertip. I will be content in this tranquility and my thoughts will roam free. And I know what those thoughts will be ‘who the heck had the brilliant idea of putting flowers in a tree!’

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” Well hello there daydreamer just stop right there, open those wistful eyes and take a look around” I tell my traveller self.

And I look, and I realise it’s right here, all around me! The blossom trees are softening my world with their sugary pastel hues and the sight of them, quite simply, makes me happy. (I defy anyone to stand under a blossom tree and not let out a little sigh of contentment).

I don’t need to go far, I can walk round my own small suburban garden and indulge in a little Hanami, a little flower viewing. I can even potter around other people’s gardens and indulge, if they’ll have me. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can stop me drinking tea in my own piece of paradise (or someone else’s if they’ll have me).

So potter around my own little landscape I do and here’s what I find.

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Catkins on the twisted hazel dangle in the breeze.

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Hellebores speckled and beautiful.

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And my latest additions snake’s head fritillary. I’ve always wanted these in my garden so when I found them in reduced to clear at an overpriced garden centre, £2 a pot instead of £5.99, I bought lots.

So there we have it, my own little celebration of Spring, my own Hanami. All I need now is a pot of tea and a place to sit and at thats me, raising a glass to the season.