Hidden May Apple bloom revealed

April 23, 2013
The May Apple bloom is rarely seen by people, just insects.

The May Apple bloom is rarely seen by people, just insects.

The shiny green May Apple leaves come up like a closed umbrella then twist open to form a thick wide canopy.  Deep below the leaves, a large white flower is hidden from human view.  But people are not the plant’s target audience – insects are.  They can find the flowers easily by flying underneath the plant’s skirts, especially when the flowers are bright white with large round faces.

May Apple canopy like green umbrellas edge to edge.

May Apple canopy like green umbrellas edge to edge.

We never cut a May Apple stalk before and are delighted to see how long it stays fresh and erect in a small pool of water.  Looking the hidden flower in the eye is a rare treat in itself.

Sprinkled on the imaginary forest floor of the vessel are single blooms from the May Apple’s colorful neighbors – two types of evergreen Anise, deep maroon with long waving fingers and a rounder, rosy-salmon pink color that’s too luscious to describe in words.  Using the magnifying glass on this one, a delicate ring of blueberry purple is visible like a secret jeweled collar.

Bright yellow Chrysogonum virginianum ‘green and gold’; the cartiledge-hard jugs from a later-blooming ginger; tiny purple flowers of Scuttelaria ‘skullcap’ and the ever-versatile Helleborus foetidus round out the composition.  The yellow-green foetidus seed pods are full and fecund, developing even larger than the flowers which have been blooming away since January.  The rare chartreuse version of Calycanthus ‘Sweet shrub’ adds a star-burst motion that echoes the long fingers of the maroon Anise.  They’re called ‘Sweet shrub’ because they smell like Juicy-fruit gum. Really.

Full composition

Full composition

Season:  mid-April in Atlanta

We call these arrangements Radical Ikebana since we’re not trained in Ikebana – the ancient art of Japanese flower arranging – yet many start with the same kenzan prong at the base. CU May apple

In the background, large watercolor by Shirlee Frank.


One Comment

  1. This made for perfect morning reading to start my day.

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