“How Long Does It Flower?”

“How long does it flower?” I hear this question over and over, especially in the springtime when many plants are in glorious bloom. “A few weeks,” I reply, and the customers lose interest immediately. “Is that all?” they say.

“But look at the foliage,” I tell them, rushing to the plant’s defense. I point to a peony’s lovely-shaped leaves. “This plants stays lush and green until mid-fall.”

“Then what?”

“Then it goes into dormancy.”

“It dies?”

“No, it turns brown, but it comes back very early each spring.”

The customers shake their heads. “Oh no. I need something that stays green all year.”

“Well, you could plant azaleas or rhododendrons, or camellias.”

“Do they flower?”


“How long?”

Basically, people are looking for eternal youth: a plant that stays beautiful forever. Mother Nature knocks herself out to give us breathtaking blooms, and we are not happy. Will we ever be? Will we ever look at the world, at ourselves, and see the hidden value?

Even more miraculous is a plant’s ability to come back from dormancy, to flower year after year. This is what our green world offers us: a fresh chance each spring to put things in perspective and be thankful for what is. What a gift.



Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

6 thoughts on ““How Long Does It Flower?”

  1. Oh, so true. I love how my garden has changed the way I see the world. When we first started planting, I was like your customers – searching for all the prettiest flowers. Now I wish I had focused more on leaf color, texture, etc. That’s what creates the backdrop or backbone for all those fleeting blooms.

    Then there is how the garden changes with seasons. It’s because of those cold winter days with dormant plants, that I appreciate spring and summer. This time of year I check my plants on a daily basis, looking for some sign of life. I love watching the shoots emerge, plants seeming to materialize overnight to start their show all over again. Mother nature really is amazing.

  2. That is well written and spot on. Thank you. It is the ever changing garden and fleeting nature of the blooms which I find interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s