Beautiful and unique in its own special way, the bud sways coyly avoiding the wind’s lure. The rain tries its hand at making an impression, but the bud bends low keeping close to the protective leaves. And then out comes the sun in all its glory. Rays so strong they break through the clouds and reach down to embrace the bud and the earth on which it stands. Slowly but surely the bud looks up, innocent and fragile. The petals open ever so slowly, shedding a speck of vulnerability at every stage. And finally emerges the vibrant flower. Swinging and swaying; completely surrendering to all the love around.
It’s that time of the year when many things in my life take a backseat and all I can think about are blossoms and blooms. Every year during May, my affair with plants peaks its head and I totally succumb.
My attraction to flowers started quite early. Barely eight years old and living in Zambia, I remember having a small section of the backyard dedicated to me as my ‘garden’. To me back then, there were only two flowers worth my time – roses of every color and size and the lovely flowers from the Frangipani tree. I recollect spending many afternoons toiling and laboring in my own way.
As I grew, so did my love affair which transitioned from a mere attraction to flirtation. Studying in the beautiful hill station of Ooty, India, I found myself amidst the perfect blend of rich soils and ideal temperatures. The drive into my Aunt and Uncle’s estate bungalow was most memorable with a garden bursting with color and variety. From the beautiful purple and pink Fuschia that welcomed us to the bright Dahlias and the exotic Bird of Paradise, I couldn’t decide. I liked them all just the same. I recall spending countless hours laying in the grass amongst all this beauty and wading through the gardens. Although I must admit that the other objective was to attack all the strawberry bushes and the plum trees that were under the gardener’s constant watch.
Now that I am older, my love too has matured. It is no longer a mere attraction or flirtation, but an adoration. After spending months covered under the snow and the cold spell, the first sight of plant nurseries in the area makes my heart skip with joy. I’ll admit I am one of those annoying people at garden centers who move ever so slowly inspecting every leaf and bud. Picking up every other plant as I go only to place it back and take something else on my third tour of the center. Needless to say, I always come back home with more plants than I have pots for.
Getting my little patio garden going this year was somewhere between exciting and nerve wrecking. My 4 year old daughter, decided to be my helping hand the whole way. Together we washed old planters, finalized on the layouts and got our hands deep and dirty with soil and mulch. We talked about the roots, the stem, the leaves and the flower. About appreciating even those parts of the plant hidden from our eyes for without it the flower would have no life.
Half a day gardening under the scorching sun was a little excessive even for me. Incredibly proud of our day’s accomplishment, my daughter wanted to spend a little more time outside. I turned around to close the patio door behind me and caught sight of her dusting off soil from the leaves of a beautiful peach colored Geranium. As I watched her crouched low, lost in the moment, I felt a sense of deja vu sweep over me. I realized I was in the midst of a budding relationship. Except this time, it wasn’t my own. It was my daughter’s.
“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” – Mark Twain