Friday, May 22, 2020

Flower power by bike: hobby puts a bloom on the isolation of Covid

Ocotillo, or "little torch" in Spanish, is usually a desert plant.  This one, outside our home, brings forth bursts of bright red blooms each spring.  Hummingbirds pollinate them so it's a bonus to watch the birds flit about the flowers. They are lovely to look at but make a very sticky bouquet! 
Our neighborhood offers many varieties of lily.
They bloom from spring to mid-summer in California.
Here, agapanthus, or African lily, is in bloom now.



SINCE ISOLATING, and a canceled docket of plays and concerts, we've found relief to anxiety and depression in daily bike rides.
This therapy provides a way to calm us, keep us active, and put a splash of color in our lives.
Our neighborhood in southern California's sunny San Diego provides an inspiring variety for
Keller and Cookie are biking their way to sanity
with flower photography.
Keller's artful eye.
Montana's blooms await
FOR ME, FLOWERS represent the intersection of poetry and science. Sure, it's worthy to learn pistons and stamens, but it's essential to appreciate beauty. For me, right now, that ability is life-saving.
Our cat's paw are yellow, brown and scarlet. The plant is also
known as reindeer paw, and is native to Australia. 
Flowers, and the natural world they share with us creatures, are an elegy for the passage of time and the cycle of life.
I recognize many of the traditional "flower bed" plants because they inhabit similar climates all over the world -- snap dragons, petunias, dahlias, roses, pansies, marigolds, lilies.
When we don't recognize a bloom, we use our plant reference books and aps to identify the ones we don't know.  Recently, we discovered the intriguing kangaroo paw. Also known as reindeer paw, this Australian plant fascinates Keller. He loves watching the long stalks sway in the wind and admires the pretty six-point star around the bloom, supported by a showy, feathery blossom.
Recognize this bloom? It's in our
yard and often used by florists.
The glorious purple
jacaranda is abloom now.

TO HAVE THIS unusual plant literally out our door has been one of the saving graces of virtual incarceration. Stopping to photograph and admire unique foliage in the landscape of our town home grounds gives us hope that our cultural life will bloom again, too.
Keller and Cookie stop to smell the roses wherever they
travel, here at the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia. 
I love finding flowers that I recognize from my youthful gardening in Montana.  Watching my grandmother Olive plant her dahlias before they'd produced blooms, guessing which one to put where to showcase the eventual colors. Helping my mother arrange marigolds and moss roses along the walkway, cautioning my toddler brother Rick not to yank them out.
This dahlia is one of a dozen shades in our neighborhood.
Hawaii's flowers fascinate
It's fun to find the same colors of columbine and yarrow that I tend in my Montana garden.  Or to find a familiar plant late in summer as it is ending its bloom -- then collect a handful of seeds.  I did this with a patch of zennias last year, and a bright corner of nasturtiums in a neighbor's alley.
Flower frenzy in Borrego
WHEREVER WE wander in the world, we try to visit a garden.  In Victoria, the beautiful Butchart Gardens have captivated us each time we return to British Columbia.  
Unusual flowers of southern California take the edge off
the strains of isolation and routine disruption. Here,
Jerusalem sage.has an unusual long-stemmed bloom.
Here's grevillea rosmarinifolia!
We love the botanical gardens of the Canary Islands, Fiji and Hawaii. We've
visited the famous garden of Kenrokuen, Kanazawa, Japan, 200 years in the making.  It boasts more subtle shades of green than I'd imagined could exist and azaleas of a dozen colors.
We'e marveled at the tulips in Keukenhof, Lisse, Netherlands, and stunning tropical wonders at 
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in  Pattaya, Thailand. 
It's worthy to know a piston or a stamen,
but do appreciate lantana's beauty.
I'VE LONG loved roses -- who doesn't -- so I've visited rose gardens in Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, Sakura, Rome, Morocco, Marrakech and Montreal.  I've joined the millions who admire the Gardens of Versailles,  near Paris. They are a classic example of  the French "more is more" design, with 2,000 acres of tenderly tended beds, imaginative topiary and fragrant blooms. Louis IV commissioned famous landscaper Andre Le Notre in 1661.
Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, in London offers a splendid way to spend the day, with benches for contemplating the beauty, and peaceful nooks for a picnic or spot of tea.
Butchart Gardens delight
And in the U.S., the gardens of Portland, Oregon, Atlanta and New York proudly showcase plants that thrive in the region. I'll bet there's something blooming "back in your own back yard," as the song says. Take a walk, a bike ride, or a wander. And take photos. It'll buoy sagging spirits. Guaranteed!

The stunning view from Hampton Inn, Channel Islands Harbor, in Oxnard.

UP NEXT: Oxnard is a jewel, sometimes overlooked on the lower end of our beautiful central California coast. With our shores slowly opening up for Memorial Day weekend and the summer, consider Oxnard, which is not densely populated and offers superb whale watching, a relaxing hotel with gorgeous marina views, lively restaurants with varied fare, a world class maritime museum and more. Come with us to Hampton Inn, Channel Islands Harbor, where we'll base while we explore the magical town of Oxnard. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at nature, the arts, travel, family and more:


  1. Beautiful spring collage. We need this now. Merci beaucoups.

  2. Bay Area WanderersMay 23, 2020 at 9:36 AM

    We just returned from Japan, and love the "green gardens" there. They've been using masks for years, so we felt quite safe. Lovely photos and verbage.

  3. Montana mountaineersMay 24, 2020 at 11:13 AM

    Lucky you to have such a bounty out your door, and the ability to appreciate and preserve. We just had snow again!

  4. Nice to see you traveling again, even though the new "rules" alter everything. Look forward to Oxnard, a favorite of ours, too.