Blossoming

What does blossoming mean? What does it symbolize?

By Maria Rodale

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I've been thinking about that word a lot lately—not just because it's the season in which the whole world (at least the Northern Hemisphere) seems to blossom, but because it seems blossom time is a seasonal life stage for everyone.

What does it mean to blossom? For a plant, a tree, or a vegetable, it's the point at which a flower forms. What we sometimes forget in our love of flowers is that it is really just a stage of growth that leads to pollination and thus bearing fruit. Blossoming could compare to that part of our youth when we find our mates and produce our fruits and thus our little seeds (children!). But more often, to me, it seems as if there should be many blossoming moments in our lives, when the conditions are right for us to burst from our tight buds and become our most beautiful best selves. And so it is in the garden.

One of my gardening challenges is bridging the color gap between early bloomers like snowdrops, hyacinths, daffodils, and scilla, and when the cherries blossom and peonies pop, and the viburnum bushes burst into bloom. All those beauties, however, simply herald my favorite bloomers of all, the roses. I love the heirloom, antique, heady-with-musk-and-perfume, delicate "ladies" that burst forth all together as if it were a party. I can't bear to pick them, really (well, perhaps a bloom or two). But I am constantly "stopping to smell the roses" and enjoying the fleeting moment of imperfect perfection. And we should do this more in life.

Later come the small and practical blooms that produce the summer beans and tomatoes. The garden gets down to business! Yes, nothing quite compares to a blossoming garden in spring. But I must admit, the older I get, the more I relate to the later blossoms—the roses that burst out spontaneously, with slightly browned edges, in late September.

Think about it: What are the conditions we humans need to blossom? Just like plants, we need good nutrition, clean water, and tender care. We need sunshine and darkness (good rest). We need to be planted in the right place to optimize our happiness. And once we do blossom, we need the pollinators and the people to enjoy and appreciate our beauty, just for the sake of it, not for any other reason.

I can always feel when I am about to blossom. Like a plant, it feels like something I don't really control. Once in a while, the circumstances feel right and it comes over me like a fever or intoxication or a desperate need. Sometimes people notice and sometimes only I know it's happening. But it happens. It's like a spiritual pollination, bringing joy, happiness, and the knowledge that it's good to be alive!

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