My Dublin Bay roses bloom every spring capturing my heart. This year they seem so profound that I had to write a poem about them. I dropped my shovel, and my pruners and ran inside to do just that so as not to loose my inspiration.
It is the height of summer blooms. Bumblebees are to be found everywhere about my yard. I find them in the cool of the morning sleeping in flowers, drunk from the previous day’s feeding. As the day warms I pause to watch them at their work, mindfully probing into pistils within blooms sucking out nectar.
They are especially fond of compound flowers, those in the genus, Compositae, the daisy family, the largest example being a sunflower. These are flowers within flowers. Look closely in the middle of a dahlia, zinnia, daisy, dandelion sunflower, etc. and you will find multitudes of tiny flowerets surrounded by showy petals. It’s like one-stop shopping for bees.
Bumblebees make up the genus Bombus with 255 different species. Generally, they are black with varying stripes of yellow and sometime red. They make nests near the ground under logs, duff in small colonies. They are honey producers but in smaller quantities.
Though bumblebees don’t get as much press as their smaller cousin, the honey bee, they are extremely important pollinators. Bumblebees are particularly good at it. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second, and the beating combined with their large bodies
vibrate flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit. Bumblebees flap their wings back and forth rather than up and down like other bees. Researcher Michael Dickinson, a professor of biology and insect flight expert at the University of Washington likens wing sweeping like a partial spin of a “somewhat crappy” helicopter propeller,
They are gentle bees, single-minded in their work and rarely sting which is good because their sting can be particularly nasty. I have never been stung even though I sometimes gently pet their fuzzy backs then they are immersed in feeding. Such sweet bees.
In Praise of Bumblebees
They probe dreamily in the center
Of pie sized yellow flowers that nod towards the east
Keeping me company
As I work in the garden
These tiny winged beasts do their work
Heads up down, up down
Placing in precision their needle-like proboscises
Spring is booming in Oregon. The long, wet winter has given way to a stunning green landscape exploding with blossoms.
Have you ever taken time to look inside of a flower? I mean really looked, even with a magnifying glass. In my first botany lab as a university student, I was stunned by what I saw. As I looked through my scope the variety of designs astonished me. Flowers, being the reproductive organs of plants are designed to attract pollinators. Intricate designs provide landing sites for bees, butterflies and other bugs among stamens, pistils, and anthers. Lofty fragrances guide their way.
Humans are attracted too by flowers’ sexy ways. This week I took time out of a beautiful spring day to peek inside what is blooming about my yard.
May the beauty of your day, take your breath away – unknown
I’m in sort of a lull in a creative sense. My energies are spread elsewhere now that my husband is recovering from knee surgery. This period draws parallels to an experience I had with dormancy and reblooming…
It was a gift, an orchid plant for my desk at the end of my last school year before retirement. Six blooms of royal magenta, tinged with highlights of yellow cascaded down like the contour of a woman’s haughty hip. It was one of those grocery store variety orchids, nothing too out of the ordinary except for the color of the flowers. They positively glowed like a stained glass window in the light.
I absorbed the beauty of these blooms every day for weeks until each slowly shriveled, dried and dropped. I sadly removed their spent forms one by one. What was left were several deep green ovate leathery leaves and the tall, now naked flower stem in a plain clay pot.
“I just throw them away” a friend commented on my bloomless orchid. But I could not, the only crime of this plant needing rest after a grand performance. I remember my father saying that he got his orchids to bloom again. After enjoying such a spectacular show, I felt it a crime to sentence this plant to death in the compost pile.
I left the orchid on my bedroom window sill, watered it, and waited. Over a year passed and I realized that it probably needed special nutrients to bloom. I purchased some spray fertilizer just for orchids. In a few more months, I had a stalk full of orchid flowers to enjoy again. It is now in its third bloom.
This experience got me to thinking how we humans too need to be nurtured in life to bloom and then given periods of rest. This reminds me not to give up in dry times, be patient and to get the self-care I need to be creative. The compost pile of life awaits soon enough!