The flowers I remember as a child are beginning to bloom. I am so lucky to be here and remember them.
The ones in my earliest memories are the caragana bushes. On the farm where I grew up, we had tall hedges of them, and there were two rows about 10 feet apart. The space between them was my play house, and I delighted in showing friends the wonder of it.
Soon after the leaves, these lovely, yellow pea flowers came out. If you pulled one apart, you would find a drop of sweet nectar. Of course, I wasn’t the only one that knew about this. With the flowers, came the bees. Needless to say, I wasn’t playing between the rows while they were in bloom.
After the flowers dropped, tiny pods like peas developed. I would pick them and shell out the tiny green seeds for “food” for my tea parties. I was careful not to eat them, although I don’t think they are really poisonous. And when the pods ripened, they would split with a loud crack, flinging the seeds far away, and leaving the sides all hard and curled.
I grew up in the bottom of a shallow valley with brush along water runs and the creek that had carved the valley in the first place. Saskatoon bushes grew in some places………. and were a highly prized find. The flowers were sweet and white, and one of the first bushes to bloom. You needed to mark the spot carefully, and hope that late frosts and early birds didn’t beat you to the luscious fruit in July. I think that this shrub only grows in the Canadian Prairies……. it tastes a bit like a blueberry, but is redder, and much more delicious, especially with just a touch of lemon. Saskatoon pies and jam were always a wonderful summer treat.
In the middle of the lawn, a lilac and a chokecherry bush stood entwined, fighting for dominance. I’m not sure now which one was the intended and which was the interloper, but as chokecherries grow wild, I’m betting on the lilac.
The chokecherry bloomed first, filling the air with a wonderful, sweet aroma. The long racemes of tiny white flowers soon shed their petals like snow on the grass, and small green fruit grew. As they ripened and turned dark purple, it was always tempting to pick one and pop it into your mouth….. at least until you knew what to expect. These tiny fruits have a very large pit, and the most pucker-power of anything I have ever tasted. But cook the berries, squeeze out the juice and boil it with sugar, and you have the most delectable pancake syrup on the planet.
Soon after the chokecherries, the lilac bush would bloom. Now there are so many varieties and hybrids, but the one in the lawn was of the old variety. A heavenly scent emanated from the large cones of tiny purple flowers. they were a favourite to bring in and put in a vase to sweetly scent the house.
As you can see, with the cool weather and rain, the lilacs here are only beginning to open, but I am hoping that they will be by Saturday when I leave.
There are lots more flowers that were signs of spring to me as I prowled among the hills and grasses of my valley…… these are just a few of the early shrubs.
And a nostalgic glimpse into my childhood.