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.