Thursday, June 01, 2006

Spring smells

If you were to go for a walk on the Dr. George Trail today, I don't think you'd be able to not notice the start of the wild rose bloom. Rosa acicularis is, of course, Alberta's provincial flower, but it's also one of my personal favourites. The wild rose may not be as showy as a hybrid tea rose, but it's hardy, fragrant, and actually has a very high nutritive value. In a few days' time the walk towards the bird blind trail should smell better than any perfume counter.

Right now, though, it smells more like somebody mixed up far too many perfume-counter samples at once. The culprit isn't the roses, but the small yellow flowers on the Silverberry (better known to some as Wolf Willow) bushes.

It's hard to believe that the Silverberry's tiny, nearly inconspicuous flowers can raise such a big stink, but there's a pretty good reason for it. The plant depends on insects to pollinate its flowers, and scents are quite effective at attracting them. Generally speaking, sweet smells attract bees and butterflies, while rotten smells attract flies.

Many people like the smell of Silverberry, while others find it a bit on the overpowering side. Count me in with the latter group, I suppose, but I'll be happy when the Silverberry's done and the roses are front and centre.

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