Bring Up Flowers—How do these beautiful blossoms emerge

It is now mid-April; we are well into Spring at this point. Looking outside, I am completely astonished by the beautiful and ostentatious colours displayed by the flowers peeking through the ground. Also, I cannot overlook the smell; it is truly incredible. Nature has finally come back to life. Even though I will have to wait until well over mid-May for the first sign of leaves in the tree, I can momentarily rejoice in the early present that Mother Nature is giving us.

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Flowers, peeking through the soil, seem to exist as both fragile and tenacious entities. Although we could not see them for most of Fall and the entire Winter, parts of them have survived. The surviving part will, yet, vary depending on the kind of plant they are. Annuals will die every year but will leave behind their fertilized seeds to replant and grow sprouts. As for perennials, when freezing hits, some of their parts will begin a decaying process, yet their root network will survive even through the harshest of times. As soon as the warmth—typically brought by Spring—makes its first appearance, the roots will awaken and contribute to the renewal of all lost parts.

Thinking about flowers, often enough, evokes the image of gardens in our mind. They are so glorious that it is not surprising at all to have people willing to spend good money just for their mere sight. Two options lay in front of us to gain access to such treats. We could opt to build a personal garden, our very own little piece of paradise, or we could easily book a visit to our local botanical garden. If you decide to proceed in creating your very own tiny patch, you’ll certainly have to spend a lot of elbow grease to structure it. Yet, there are no set rules which define the perfect constitution of a garden. Still, with some advice, we can certainly create a fair-looking one.

If there is one thing you must keep in mind when dealing with flowers is the advantages offered by each of the two kinds presented before, perennials and annuals. To avoid headaches, use both: it will cut down planting time while maximizing blossoming time. Perennials will not need replanting every year. However, you will have to exert patience before seeing the fruit of all your labour. Perennials are reputed to take up to three years to reach their full potential. You will also have to remember after a few years to divide the plant. Failure to split the plants often enough could cause their flowers to acquire a dull colouring, parts could stop flowering entirely (especially at their centre), and they could also outgrow their designated spot. Spring is typically the preferred time to do the maintenance, but if you could not complete it within that period, you can still proceed to divide them safely at any other time. They are, decidedly, gifts that keep on giving.

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As for annual flowers, they are quite interesting too. They, indeed, sadly require more effort to implement in our gardens, but they have honestly no parallel in terms of either blooming period or colourfulness. If you decide to make your garden entirely out of annual flowers, it would surely be a sight for sore eyes. However, that decision would imply that the work would need to be totally redone from scratch every year. The work that it involves would be, for me at least, an insufferable burden. The solution resides in supplementation. Have beautiful perennials that keep on coming back and, every Spring, invest in some extra annuals. This alternative will not only save your hand from being overtaxed, but it will also cause your eyes to be thoroughly delighted.

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While building our next garden, we will also need to consider different combinations of colours, sizes, and shapes. Clearly, placing the small plants far behind should be avoided. They then risk being hidden by other larger plants. We need to put the smaller plants at the forefront, where we can see them. It is also worth noting that accessibility is also important. We want all of your annuals to have an easily accessible spot where we can replant them every year. As for the colours, we can explore different colour schemes. It really does not matter how many colours we want to include: let us only make sure that the combination makes sense (do they actually work well together?) The shapes of the petals and the flowers could also benefit from our attention. Aside from tulip gardens, having the same flowers repeated can be pretty dull. That’s why varying them can be a good idea. They, additionally, don’t blossom simultaneously, which would provide you with a colourful garden for much longer.

Despite the apparent appeal of having a pleasant and attractive garden, varying the sort of plants to be used is also a good idea to encourage and support diverse pollinators. The great majority of pollinators are flying insects such as bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies, moths and flies. The bees, which are famously renowned for their currently alarming decline, require our assistance. Their main sustenance is the honey produced from their collected pollen. The flowers are providing the bees with this pollen. Usually, pollen serves to produce male gametes (male sperms). Increasing pollen supplies for the bee is a good start in a way to help them.

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We can find the pollen on the anther at the filaments’ tip. Both, the stamen and the filaments, form what we call the stamen. The filaments are thin cylindrical structures popping out of the centre of the flower. Aside from the filaments, flowers have many other parts. They have a stem that serves as a support for both their leaves and the flower itself. They also possess numerous leaves that will provide energy for the plant through photosynthesis. The pistil, found at the very centre of the flower, will collect pollen for the prospective fertilization of the ovules residing inside it. Lastly, the petals will provide protection for the reproductive organs. They will also serve to repel or even attract particular pollinators.

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When gazing upon a garden that has been carefully conceived to all of its subtlest detail, it is of no wonder that one must be marvelled. Yet, it is equally, or even more, fascinating to observe a random patch of flower composite in the forest or on the side of the road. Nature has a marvellous taste in design when it comes to arranging her decor. Every summer, during my regular hikes, I become incredibly aware of the inner beauty of the nature surrounding us.

My favourite kinds are flowers with small petals and vivid colours. Still, I cannot ignore the appeal of all the others. The first flower that caught my breath was the lilac. This perennial was a flower that was introduced to me by a long-time admirer, my mother. She loves them so much that she bought two lilacs to plant around our courtyard. When they became big enough, we could enjoy both the colours and the odours they were presenting. A second flower that I particularly love is the violet. I remember finding one of them piercing through the asphalt (bitumen) on the side of the road, and I could not stop pondering about their strength. Lastly, I included bleeding hearts on my list. These are the most recent flowers I encountered and instantly charmed me. From my mother-in-law’s garden, I caught myself gazing at those flowers and thinking about how they reminded me of both protection and love.

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I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.

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Bring Up Biophilia—What makes us particularly attracted to nature

No one can dismiss the amazing feeling we get after spending some time in nature. We instantly feel relaxed and reinvigorated. Some might attribute this effect to time spent far away from work, and even though they could be correct, it is not the whole picture. Biophilia is a relatively new concept that brought the…

Bring Up Blood—How our oxygen gets carried throughout our body

Good evening my dearest followers, Please, take a moment to enjoy this excerpt for my newest post (Bring Up Blood). We could most certainly not live without blood. It is absolutely essential for the survival of our most distant limbs and organs. Even though almost all of our respiration is thanks to our respiratory organs,…

Bring Up Seasons – What can we tell about these four

Life is always accompanied by changes, making change probably its most loyal companion. We are so often exposed to them -and always have been- that we developed ways to categorize the changes that keep reoccurring. These are the changes we call cyclic. As in the cycle of water where water keeps on changing forms, from vapour to solid and everything in between. Each of these changes has been attributed specific names, which are, in order, evaporation (or transpiration), condensation, precipitation and surface runoff. From surface runoff, evaporation can once again proceed which closes the loop. This cycle is believed to be able to persist forever or, at least, for as long as water remains. Now let’s drift away from the cycle of water, so we can enjoy a broader vision of the changes that surround us. For one, a change that I am especially keen on welcoming every year is warm weather. When I mention warm weather, what probably pops in your head right now is the summer season and this is exactly what I was referring to. However, the temperature is not the only thing that keeps changing through seasons. Let’s plow through each season by pointing out each of the major changes that they carry along with them.

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First of all, let’s agree to present seasons by order of encounter starting from January to December (our calendar year). January and February in North America are accompanied by undeniable cold, especially if you live in Québec. This drastic temperature change unequivocally marks the arrival of winter. In Québec, the average temperature resides around -10℃, but there are huge day-to-day variations. One day can be marked by a dreadful -24℃ and the next a comfortable 2℃, you never really know. Apart from the noticeable and persistent presence of cold, our winter is marked by a significant accumulation of snow, which you know by now is a form of precipitation (read Bring Up Snow). The snow is accumulating because the soil has frozen, thanks to the ever tenacious cold. Nevertheless, the total amount of precipitation is still lower than any other time of the year. winter is particularly dry, which explains why our skin becomes so dried-up and flaky. If we add the wind factor to the equation, winter becomes even worse. The speed of wind can reach an average of 13km/h which is the fastest we can record during the year. As if winter season was not dreary enough with its cold, dryness, and windiness, it also has to encompass all the shorter days of the years, decreasing naturally available light. Moreover, we can observe an increase in cloudy days which can block most of that light. It is of no wonder that winter is being framed as the darkest month of the year, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Fortunately for us, winter does not last forever. With March comes spring carrying all of its renewing properties. From the moment Spring deploys its wings, the temperature rises to a satisfying average of 1℃/day. The resulting warmth is sufficient to unthaw the soil and melt the leftover snow abandoned by winter. The increased water supply and the warmth becomes essential factors that permit the growth of new vegetation and the awakening of trees. Not only are plants pleased by these changes but animals too. Animals hibernating are now coming out of their dormant stage and are joining in the feast that nature is bringing them. Days are becoming longer and less cloudy, contributing to more natural light being able to reach us. The wind also seems to calm down creating a more tempered climate. I sincerely love spring. Spring is not only the time when I can finally celebrate yet another birthday, but also the coming back of leaves in the trees. I must say that the event ignites in me a feeling of total admiration and joy,  am I the only one feeling this? As soon as May knocks at our doors, I begin to be actively alert for the first sight of green appearing on branches. Yet, there is something else happening slightly before the first greenery that makes me really pleased to welcome spring: the opening of Sugar Shacks. I know this probably makes me sound very Canadian, but I am, and why deny my true nature? If you happen to come by Québec in spring, make sure to taste our sweet sweet nectar of the gods, namely our maple syrup. You can also enjoy it under its toffee form which is a real treat served on fresh snow.

Though I really like spring and all that it offers, I also really enjoy summer. As you may now know from previous articles, I’m fairly intolerant of cold and summer is anything but cold. Beginning in June, the heat increases at a speedy but steady rate, plateauing at around 26℃ by July 26th. Still, summer has other attributes that are at least as impressive as its remarkable change in temperature. For instance, let us give an honourable mention to the longest day of the year, which happens every year, varying between 20-21 June. This date marks the Summer Solstice, harbingering the summer season. This year the longest day will be on June 20th. From the province of Québec, you will be able to witness the sunrise at 5:06 am and the sunset at 8:47 pm. In the Summer, the daylight period is longer, the days are more humid, the sky is less cloudy and the winds are seldom present. Yet, the rainfalls can be phenomenal, averaging a total of 92mm of rain per month. It becomes pretty obvious why so many people want to spend much of their time outside. This behaviour is perfectly adequate, but we still have to remember to protect our skin against excessive sunlight exposure.

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Most of us can agree that summer never lasts long enough. As soon as the daylight period begins to shrink, From the arrival of October, the leaves in the trees start changing colours. This is a beautiful event that gives rise to a wonderful scenery. Yet, there is one thing we often omit to consider when ogling that dazzling chemistry of colour. The change of leaf colour is the manifestation of trees entering slowly but surely their dormant phase. Soon enough leaves will fall on the ground and the trees will be bare and will start looking somewhat dead. They won’t be dead though, as you will observe when spring shows up again. As we move through the fall months (September, October and November), the temperature will start dropping and the days will become ever shorter. The winds are picking up again and the clouds are becoming more present. Still, if you dress up accordingly, you can enjoy tremendously satisfying walks in the woods. On our doorstep appears December once again dragging back winter, and the cycle goes on.

This is all really interesting, but what if this whole idea of 4 seasons regulated by solstices and equinox wasn’t the most appropriate adopted system. This is a question that some scientists try to answer by studying common metabolisms happening in the human body through the year. A study that took place in California, U.S. obtained results suggesting that there may only be two seasons, not four as previously considered (well at least in their region). These revelations are intriguing indeed, but what do you think? Do you think that where you live there are more than four seasons, or less, or exactly four? What’s your stance? As for me, I consider that our approach is perfectly adequate for the province of Québec and any further studies surveying this issue would be interesting, but still far from relevant in regard to our way of life. 

I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.