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  • Jackie Skrypnek

Flower to Fruit

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Year of the Rooster? Year of Trump? How about Year of the Flower?

Here in southern Alberta, 2017 has seen the greatest showcase of floral abundance in recent memory. It was my dad who first pointed this out to me on his rural property, saying he couldn't remember a better year for flowers. And he's 77! First the crocuses appeared in record numbers and, lest we think they were an anomaly, they were quickly followed by vast patches of shooting stars, three-flowered avens, and buffalo beans. As those faded, a type of vetch painted purple swaths on the hills and roadsides. I found the typically infrequent wood lily in ridiculous numbers, and now it's the wild bergamot and Indian paintbrush.

It has been a sweet pleasure to witness all this wild flourishing. But as someone who's continually drawn to the edibility of things, what has me excited is the implication that all these flowers will transform into fruit. Sure, many wildflowers produce seed that drops to the ground or takes to the wind when ready. But a great number of plants embed their seeds within the flesh of delicious fruit and each flower is a potential future morsel.

This hunch (or educated guess, perhaps) that 2017 will emerge also as the Year of the Fruit seems already to be bearing true. In our yard the saskatoons, apples, strawberries, and hawthorn berries are all developing abundantly. And the same is happening with wild plants. Buffaloberry bushes are outrageously laden and the currants are loaded. Perhaps the best example of this flower-to-fruit succession has been the wild rose. I can't begin to describe the lavishness with which these bloomed this year! I found hillsides that seemed veritable seas of pink blooms basking in the sunshine and humming with various insects pollinating giddily.

(As an aside, I've discovered that beetles have a sensuous side. As I harvested petals here and there from the roses, I vowed to leave any flower alone that was obviously occupied by an insect. This turned out to be a great many since a certain beetle favours the inside of a wild rose flower for its lovemaking. Can you think of a more sensual setting for such an act of intimacy than amongst these silky, fragrant, sunlit petals?)

I gathered and savoured these petals for a week or two, making rosewater, rose chocolate, and rose liqueur. Now those same hillsides appear deceivingly bereft of roses at first glance. But a closer look reveals the bushes are heavy with fruit - rosehips, to be enjoyed in autumn after a frost.

This profusion of fruit (if I'm correct that there is one) won't likely be reflected in the supermarkets since they tend to stock produce from further afield and be unresponsive to the ebbs and flows of the local ecology. You may reap the benefits, however, through local growers at a farmer's market or CSA. Better yet, spend some time observing your own yard, neighbourhood, rural property, or public natural area for abundant fruit you can partake of. Get your dehydrator, freezer bags, and canning jars ready (or just your open hand) because I foresee great fruit-filled feasting in the weeks and months ahead!

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