Gayle Okumura Sullivan

For years our beautiful and majestic dogwood tree stood silent. When we first bought the farm 20 years ago, it was like clockwork, and every spring our dogwood would bloom gorgeous white flowers, right in the front of the house. Cars stopped on Yoakim Bridge to photograph it. I think it is the most beautiful tree on our property, and maybe even in the Dry Creek Valley, though others would argue that. Perfect is the shape, shocking white is the bloom. Every spring we would marvel at this gem, and it was always a trigger, for when the dogwood blooms, we know we need to begin thinning our peach trees. 

Then, for years, it stopped. Every spring we would wait for flowers to appear, and they never did. We thought maybe the tree was aging out, dying, or maybe it caught some virus, and we would need to replace it. Such a beautiful stand-alone tree, we didn’t have the heart to remove it. Year after year we waited, and nothing appeared, until this year.
This April, after most dogwoods had bloomed in the valley, it started to flower, and then flower, more and more. It had returned with a vengeance, after a deep slumber, back to its glory days. We were so happy, and even while sheltered, had a few people over to sit at a distance under the shade of the dogwood blossoms, and bask in the fragrance and all. 
But the dogwood is no exception, for this year has been a stunner for blossoms and flowers all around. I don’t think I have ever seen the myriad of colored roses more diverse and bold than this year, or that I can recall, shades and hues brilliant and every day like sunshine.  How can you not stop to smell the roses.
Why are the flowers so abundant this year? Is it the co2 in the air? Is it just time? Is it the temperature? The importance of flowers and their fruit to the evolution of life on earth cannot be overstated, states Jeanne Wirka, an interpretive naturalist and resident biologist at the Bouverie Preserve near Glen Ellen.
Our peach trees blossomed in March in great form, and flowering plants/trees make fruit. Yes, the beautiful roses lining your driveway are creating a rose-hip or berry. And the genesis of the peach and many other fruits, trees and shrubs– the rose family.
I know this is a troubling time; everyone is impacted by our current situation. But I think we can all take stock in nature, for it plugs along, and is impervious to the pandemic, and can deliver wonderful surprises, when we all need it most.
When the dogwood blooms, peach thinning begins. At this point, we’ve thinned all the excess fruit off our trees, so time consuming but essential, and now the peaches are ripening in the sun and this bit of rain. We typically begin harvest around Memorial Day and the season runs through Labor Day. We’ll keep you posted as to the progress.
Take care out there!
Next Month: Peaches
Gayle Okumura Sullivan is co-owner, with husband Brian, of Dry Creek Peach & Produce in Healdsburg.

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