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True Blue

My thoughts were cold; stunted under the layers I had piled on for an early spring bike ride. My legs felt heavy as I pushed my pedals through thick wet earth. Imagine my surprise as I rounded the corner and the woods opened into a delightful sea of blue!

Perfectly perched on a south-facing slope, a patch of Siberian Scilla floated effortlessly above the dark green periwinkle.  This time of year, any pop of color warms the heart. But a sea of blue violet? In the otherwise lifeless grey-brown forest floor?


New life. New hope. Fresh reminders that old friends are not lost.


I love the state forest near my home every season, but Spring is my favorite for the simple surprise of flowers and buds and birds singing the earth back to life. And my heart with it.


Out of the crustiest, snow-melted earth Scilla are one of the first woodland bulbs to emerge. In the Asparagus family (Asparagaceae), the genus consists of about 30 to 80 species of bulb-forming perennial herbaceous plants native to woodlands and meadows. I like the English name “Squills” as it reminds me of their little flower heads poking out to get noticed.


One of the most popular and prolific spreading Scillas is known as Siberian squill (Scilla siberica). It’s a striking deep blue cold-hardy bulb that shows up as soon as the snow melts. Planted in the lawn, their 5”, grass-like leaves can be mowed after blooming. In the woodland garden, they look amazing with the purple flowers of periwinkle. Many gardeners also plant them as you would crocus to get that early pop of color.


In fact, sometimes they may surprise you. Given the right conditions (and time – don’t forget time), plants like the patch of Scilla that I came across can naturalize and fill in all the bare patches they find. While their impact may only last a few weeks, naturalizing plants can give your garden an informal and wild look (as nature intends).


Just like a visit or call from a friend with whom you may have lost contact, to hear or see them again is to remember a part of you that was missing. Perhaps we can take a cue from the calendar and let the change of seasons remind us to surprise an old friend. As C.S. Lewis wrote about the value of friendship:


“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself

(for God did not need to create). It has no survival value;

rather it is one of those things which give value to survival. “

~ from The Four Loves (Chapter 4) 


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