Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Signs of Spring

When I walk each day I get a chance to see what local flowers are blooming. The California Poppy starts growing in February, as far as I can tell. During gray days when it's still winter, I see the distinct greenery pushing up above the wet ground. But then one day the flowers bursts out into bloom and suddenly you see them everywhere.

The California Poppy is the state flower. It's also really easy to grow and very prolific. Well, at least in California. My mother has taken seeds back to New England and tried to grow them there and they just fizzled. Must be too wet.
But I wonder what criteria is used in choosing a state flower? Is the state flower protected? California Poppies grow like WEEDS. You can see them everywhere. Yet when California Conservation Corp crews weed whack along the highways and around off ramps, they cut around the clusters of flowers. It's a funny sight to see a newly trimmed field where waist high weeds used to grow with tuffs of poppies 'popping' up from among the chaff.

When I was growing up in Massachusetts I thought the state flower was the Pink Lady Slipper. This made sense to me, at the time- because the Pink Lady Slipper is hard to grow, difficult to transplant, rare as a result and come to find out, endangered in some places. Read more. When I walked in the pine forests near our home I'd be elated if I saw four or five while on a woodland ramble. I remember during one particular spring I proudly announced having counted ten during my usual walk

And they're so strange looking. They don't look like any flower I know. No petals, no center giving off a fragrance. You're not supposed to pick them, it's practically forbidden. They're in the orchid family, maybe that explains it.

But since my girlhood in New England I've discovered that the state flower of Massachusetts is the Mayflower. Now isn't that quaint? It's a ground laurel. But I have no memory of it. It isn't bizarre, it didn't catch my wondering eye as an adolescent and make me say, "What is THAT?"


heyrenee said...

Yes, Leslie, I think it is protected. Love the photo of the ladyslipper. Far prettier than the mayflower, to me. Ah, if only we were the ones to run things.... Hope you had a nice day.

Su Bee said...

wow, what a pretty and unusual flower! I'd be delighted to see that too. Our poppy is protectged, you're not suposed to pick flowers or even harvest seed, but of course there's no way they can enforce that, it's just a part of being an official flower, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie,
I also look forward to the California Poppy's bloom. Your photos are beautiful. DH planted some seeds this spring, but they are not up...yet, perhaps they will need a full year to germinate for our viewing pleasure. The Lady Slipper would be a nice additon to the multitude of wildflowers in our area!