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10 Neat Things About Early Spring Flowers
by Shauna Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie



The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at www.localgardener.net and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

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April 14, 2019

1. Hellebores.

Hellebores are poisonous, as are many plants in the garden. The sap and seeds, interestingly, will turn skin black and lead to tingling and numbness, according to Diana Grant on the website dengarden.com. She says a few days after prolonged contact, the skin on her fingers became so hard she could hear it scratching on the table.

2. Snowdrops.

Galanthus is enormously popular in Europe, where there are galanthophiles, people who collect them. These small-bulb flowers were remarked on as early as the fourth century BCE by Theophrastus. They are suspected of being the plant known as moly, which appeared in Homer's Odyssey; moly was given to Odysseus to protect him from the poisons of Cirse. Snowdrops do have a component that is an antidote to certain poisons, and it is native to the Mediterranean. It may not be moly, though, since Homer also says the plant has a black root. The bulbs of snowdrops are white.

3. Daffodils.

Daffodils are the flower for 10th wedding anniversaries; you should give your beloved 10 of them. Don't give him or her just one, though; receipt of one daffodil is a sign of bad luck.

4. Crocus.

Depending on whom you talk to, the Greek person from whom Crocus takes its name was either a friend of Hermes accidentally killed by him in a game of discus or a youth in love with the nymph, Smilax. In the Hermes version, the god was distraught at his mistake and turned his fallen friend into the crocus. In the Smilax version, the youth was distraught at his ill treatment by Smilax and was turned into the crocus by the gods. Smilax must have done something really awful, because the gods turned her into bindweed.

5. Pulsatilla, or prairie crocus.

The floral emblem of Manitoba, while called a prairie crocus, is not a crocus but a pulsatilla. It is native to areas across western North America, from up in the Yukon south to Texas. It has an interesting way of planting its own seeds. The seeds are elongated with a hairy tail. The hairs on the tail are designed to hold different amounts of water so that, as they dry out and refill with moisture, they kind of corkscrew down toward the soil.

6. Forsythia.

This pretty yellow-flowering shrub originates in Asia. In Korea, the wood is used to make the bow for ajaeng, a stringed instrument with a raspy sound. In Canada, it is the central image of the Forsythia Festival, held every May in Cabbagetown in Toronto.

7. Primula.

The origin of the name primula comes from the same Latin as the word prime, indicating that the flowers are among the first to open. In Canada, however, they are more likely the first to appear in grocery stores in the middle of winter (also known as February).

8. Scilla.

A pretty little blue flower with, surprisingly, blue pollen. This is rare, though not unheard of. Most pollen is in the white to yellow to orange range. Other flowers with blue pollen include Oriental poppies and borage.

9. Pansies.

The name for some varieties of Viola, pansy, comes from the French pens?e, or thought. The idea is that the flower looks like someone with his head tilted in thought. It has thus become the emblem of humanists and freethinkers.

10. Quotes.

Robin Williams: "Spring is nature's way of saying 'let's party!'" Percy Bysshe Shelley: "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" Charles Dickens: "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade." "Hurry up, spring!"

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