Daffodils, Hellebores, and Red-Flowering Currants in Spring

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Daffodils at the bottom of my road

Spring is an exciting time of year. There is an unmistakable energy in nature as flower buds open and reproduction begins. Almost every day, I see and photograph new flowers in bloom. Although humans are currently facing a problem due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the plant world is unaffected. It can offer us a lovely distraction from life’s problems. The flowers of daffodils, hellebores, and red-flowering currants are enjoyable to see.

Where I live, it’s currently recommended that although we may go for a daily walk, we should stay six feet away from other people. I intend to go for nature walks for as long as I’m able to, though I will maintain a suitable distance from others. Social distancing is vital at the moment. If people can’t leave their home at this time, tending or observing garden plants or even houseplants could provide comfort.

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A daffodil and grape hyacinths

Daffodils

The daffodil photos in this article were taken very near my home. The first one was taken on a strip of land with wild shrubs and trees. Certain clues lead me to believe that someone planted the bulbs there a couple of years ago. It’s lovely to see the flowers appear in the spring. The second photo was taken at the edge of someone’s garden from the sidewalk.

Daffodils are a beautiful sign of hope. They are used as a symbol for some cancer agencies, including the Canadian Cancer Society. They belong to the genus Narcissus. The trumpet-shaped centre of the flower is known as the corona. The petal-like structures at the base of the corona form the perianth.

My favourite type of daffodil is the one in which the corona and the perianth are bright yellow in colour.  The flower’s appearance reminds me of the sun. Plant breeders have created daffodil varieties in which the corona and perianth have different colours or in which the colour of the corona “bleeds” on to the perianth. They’ve also created varieties in which the corona and/or perianth are doubled. The latter varieties are interesting and often attractive but look very unlike a typical daffodil.

The plants grow in the wild in the UK. William Wordsworth’s famous and evocative poem about his discovery of wild daffodils beside a lake is entitled “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. I think it’s well worth reading.

Daffodils are lovely but poisonous. Their toxicity should be investigated before bringing them into a home or growing them in a garden.

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Hellebores

I’ve cheated a bit with my photo above and below. I saw a lovely patch of hellebores in someone’s garden today, but I couldn’t get close enough to photograph them. I know from experience that the landscaped area of a nearby golf course very likely has hellebores in bloom as well. The photograph above shows some of them but was taken on April 1st in 2018.

As I approached the golf course today, I saw a truck with people and activity around it and thought it best to avoid the area. The public area of the course has a pond and is lovely to visit, but the pathways for visitors are quite narrow in some areas. These are things to think of at this time, especially for someone with conditions that might make a COVID-19 infection more serious.

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A white hellebore by the golf course

Hellebores belong to the genus Helleborus and the family Ranunculaceae (the buttercup family). They flower in late winter or early spring where I live in British Columbia. The “petals” of the flowers are actually coloured sepals. The sepals of a flower are normally green and are located under a flower. The hellebore flowers that I see have maroon or white sepals.

The centre of a hellebore contains nectaries, which look like little cups, as well as the reproductive organs (the stamens and pistils). The nectaries are made from modified petals.

Two popular hellebores have “rose” in their name, thought they don’t belong to the rose family. One famous species is known as the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger). It grows in the wild and in cultivation. The sepals are usually white but may be pink or even pale green. The colour is appreciated in winter, when the flower blooms. The species has been crossed with other Hellebore ones to create some interesting hybrids.

Helleborus orientalis is known as the Lenten rose. Like the Christmas rose, it comes in a variety of colours. It can be seen during the period of Lent (a forty-day period just before Easter in the Christian calendar), which gave the plant its name. It should be noted that like daffodils, although hellebores are lovely plants, they are poisonous.

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Red-flowering currant leaves, flowers, and flower buds

Red-Flowering Currant

Ribes sanguineum is a small shrub that grows as a wild plant in North America as well as  in a cultivated form. It belongs to the family Grossulariaceae, which is also known as the gooseberry family. In spring, the leaves and flowers of the plant emerge at roughly the same time.

The plant above is a cultivated one that has been planted in a landscaped area under a pedestrian overpass. The fresh green leaves and pink flower buds and flowers are always a pleasure to see in spring. The flowers are produced in a dangling structure known as a raceme.

The fruit of the red-flowering current is a purple berry. It’s edible but tart.  Despite the tartness, some people collect the berries to eat in sweetened pies and jam. The leaves of the plant are wide and have three to five lobes. The leaves and the nectar of the flowers are important food sources for wildlife.

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Another flowering red currant

The photo above was taken under the pedestrian overpass last year. I took the photo on April 7th, so more flowers were open and more leaves were visible than in the previous photo. It will be interesting to see what the shrubs in that location look like on April 7th this year. The area also has some lovely rose bushes and is a magnet for bees when the flowers are open.

I appreciate the landscaped areas as well as the wild ones in my area. There’s always something interesting to see, especially in spring. It’s lovely to forget about the coronavirus for a while and to see new life emerge.