“Subtract flowers from the world and the whole world is dead from a human point of view. The non-flowering plants on earth include the mosses, liverworts, conifers, cycads, ferns, and gingko trees. Almost every other plant, everything we and other animals eat, requires a flower for reproduction. We know that flowers are beautiful. We forget that they are essential.”
-- Sharman Apt Russell, Anatomy of a Rose (Da Capo Press, 2002)
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“We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened.”
-- Mark Twain, from Huckleberry Finn (1884)
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“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near to the heart of the world as I can.”
-- John Muir (1838-1914)
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We’re now entering the spring wildflower season, with every week bringing an array of beautiful blooming flowers of every conceivable color alongside the trails.
Can we expect this year’s wildflowers to be as lovely as ever? Hopefully, since we’ve had ample rain. Flowers are part of what makes spring a feast for the senses.
You don’t have to look far to find multi-colored carpets of wildflowers in meadows, on hillsides, on mountaintops, and in nature’s nooks and crannies.
We may not know many of their names, but we can still appreciate their beauty and “creative use of color,” and witness new varieties blooming each week.
One of the more memorable displays in late spring each year is of mountain laurel, which covers some mountainsides with white and pink flowers during the month of June.
Equally impressive though less often seen on our hikes is rhododendron, cousin to mountain laurel and with larger leaves and flowers, which bloom well into July.
Apart from their beauty, flowers play a vital role in any ecosystem. It’s easy to forget that life on the earth as we know it would be impossible without them!
-- Charlie Cook