Brian Minter: Nature can help pull out of those winter doldrums
As we enter a new year that unfortunately still drives the challenges of 2020 but also holds promising hope for a return to a sense of normalcy, we really need to be aware of the negative impact this pandemic is having on so many People had.
Isolation from a familiar circle of relationships is perhaps the most difficult situation. As the lights, sounds, and scents of the Christmas season fade and we step into the darkest and coldest months of the year, this reality weighs heavily on our mood, and with current pandemic logs, this feeling of isolation can be difficult to alleviate.
When it comes to raising spirits, overwhelming evidence shows that the power of nature can help. While we are in the depths of winter, anything that can associate us with the color, perfume, and warmth of spring has far more healing powers than we can imagine.
I admire our younger generations who are much more connected to understanding and appreciating the environment. Your love for all things green is contagious. With no prior experience, they quickly learn how to grow plants, often in difficult situations, and how to let them thrive.
Yes, they make mistakes, but they really want to learn from them. This process, in turn, creates a sense of wellbeing, connection with living plants, and greater happiness. It may seem simple, but sharing plants and flowers with friends who are more isolated can give them that much-needed boost. The power of flowers cannot be overstated; The positive feelings they evoke are remarkable.
I was surprised, as was our entire industry, how many amaryllis bulbs were sold before Christmas. People wanted to give something that would grow easily and offer the experience of seeing flowers develop and bloom. This may be why amaryllis sales in Europe overtook poinsettia purchases during the Christmas season.
This is the time of year when large local growers produce potted green onions in large numbers. Usually grown in 4-inch pots and are reasonably priced. Miniature daffodils, irises, crocuses and fragrant hyacinths are on the market now, and what a delight they are when their bulbs bloom and fill the flower pots with spring color. For anyone who is alone or isolated, they are a happy reminder that spring is just around the corner.
Primroses are now also available, which make beautiful, light-colored window sill plants. While color is important, when the magic kicks in, the addition of perfume is done and most yellow primroses are scented. The new outdoor primrose called “Coco” has an attractive white ruffle around each flower, which makes it particularly elegant. All of these plants can go into the garden in the spring.
Tiny miniature roses are mainly grown in Denmark and come in an excellent range of colors. Although a little harder to find, a pink variety called ‘RosAroma’ is well scented. It comes from the famous Kordes breeding program and its perfume is surprising.
There is also a wide variety of delightful, longer lasting houseplants available. Varieties with a lingering perfume are hard to find, especially at this time of year, but the easy-to-grow Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) is one of the best. If it has a house near a window, it tends to bloom sporadically year round. The leaves are often used to make jasmine tea.
Smaller pot orchids are one of the best values. Phalaenopsis orchids come in a variety of colors and can bloom for months with minimal care.
For decks and balconies, there are several outdoor winter-flowering shrubs that are a real treat when their flowers open. White, pink, and purple heather are good choices for the winter color. On fine winter days when the temperature rises above 10 ° C, they attract bees looking for pollen.
The highly perfumed Himalayan sweet box (Sarcococca hookeriana) will quickly become everyone’s favorite. They prefer shade, but at this time of year they can go anywhere on a patio. Depending on the severity of winter, they can produce hundreds of tiny flowers that burst with a lovely scent, and flowering can take weeks.
Camellia sasanqua now shows brightly colored buds, which, depending on the course of winter, begin to bloom a little until April. Its open flowers attract Anna’s hummingbirds and native bees.
Feeding birds and hummingbirds at this time of year is an activity that more and more people are enjoying. When we support native birds, especially in winter, we need to be consistent and proactive to get it right. The reward is seeing lots of native birds near our bird feeders.
A small gift of a plant or a bouquet of fragrant flowers can be anything that is needed to positively affect a person’s day or week. It’s a connection with nature that so many people miss today, and as with most aspects of life, it can be the little things that matter most.