Beauty will save the world, boldly pronounced Dostoyevsky. The inspirational beauty of the Legacy Center arboretum is being documented on
an ongoing basis by acclaimed nature photographer Peter Van Rhijn. From scenic landscapes to macro close-ups, we uncover the wonders of nature to share with all ages.
Hello Spring! We've been waiting for you.
After a long, cold winter (which, by the way has its benefits – including better dormancy for the trees and killing off insect pests), we're ready for Spring. And we were delighted to find the first bit of color, the first flower of Spring, nestled in the brown.
Tussilago farfara is commonly known as Coltsfoot because it has long-stalked, hoof-shaped leaves, which appear after the yellow flower has bloomed.
At a glance, you might mistake this low-growing flower for a Dandelion. But Coltsfoot is smaller and appears earlier in Spring. The flower heads have even been known to push through snow. The white, fluffy seed heads do resemble those of Dandelions. But Coltsfoot seed will mature by the time the very first Dandelions are coming into bloom. Coltsfoot isn't a prolific seed producer compared to many annual weeds, with each plant producing about 3,500 seeds.
Coltsfoot can be very difficult to eradicate once it settles into an area. It's native to Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia, but is now found in North America, introduced in the 1920s.
Traditionally this plant has had medicinal uses (flower, leaves, and root all used for separate purposes). "Tussilago" itself means "cough suppressant." In Paris, the Coltsfoot flower used to be painted as a sign on the doorpost of an apothecary's shop.
When you see the Coltsfoot, you know it's Spring. The seasons have been used as metaphors for age, with Spring associated with youth. But commented Virginia Woolf, "I enjoy the Spring more than the Autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older."
No matter what your age, in the words of Leo Tolstoy, "Spring is the time of plans and projects." The Legacy Project is making some BIG plans for a new global initiative that's coming soon. The potential is everywhere, and Spring makes us even more hopeful. If only it weren't for those negative voices that make no suggestions but are full of criticisms…
And so we end with a final Spring thought from Ernest Hemingway, "When Spring came, even the false Spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people, and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as Spring itself."
For more captivating images from the Legacy Center arboretum, check out the Legacy Project's Natural Inspirations Series, available as posters or a downloadable digital image file (with themes/writing prompts for classrooms).