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#BotanistLens: Out of the box! From nectar guides, landing pads to petal-less floral treasures.

Early spring treasures are blossoming almost every week at London Town. From Snowdrops, Sweet box to Pygmy Iris, the flowers of these plants surely seem be thinking out of the box! Having a specific pattern as nectar guides on snowdrops, to bright yellow landing pads on Irises and even flowers without showy petals, the evolution and diversity of flowers is simply mesmerizing! All to attract the pollinators, guiding them to the nectar sources to then pollinate in return and continue their own life cycle.

No petals, no problem, pinkish showy anthers are all SweetBox flowers needs. Well, with a sweet lingering scent that can calm any soul, what else would a Sarcoccoca flower need? London Towns ravines are filled with fragrant SweetBox and a special one too, "Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis". It is one of the most underrated ground covers and a five star plant. If you have shade and need an in between layer to tall shrubs like Camellias and low ground covers, then Sweet box is your friend. It needs zero maintenance! Best of all, the tiny petal-less flowers can fill a whole yard with its sweet aroma.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, Himalayan Sweetbox

How about specific nectar guides to attract the pollinators? And by specific I mean precise, color coded, like those of Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis. The inner petals of snowdrops have specific green marking that act as nectar guides to pollinators. "Snowdrops, Galanthus spp., are small, early-blooming perennial spring bulbs. The name Galanthus comes from the Greek gala (milk), and anthos (flower), referring to the color of the flowers".

Best of all, is the bright yellow nectar pad on the dwarf Irises, Iris reticulata. The landing pads are on petals that are called as falls. The upright ones are called standards. "Reticulated irises are trouble free performers and persist for years in the garden, though division just as the foliage is dying once every five years will help maintain vigor. "

Galanthus nivalis, Snowdrops

Flower patterns, colors and aroma are unique and specific to a particular genus. Flowers may look simple, like those of snowdrops, delicate milky-white blossoms dancing happily in cold February, but these flowers are anything but simple. Get up close to these floral treasures to understand the complex patterns and how they are linked to pollinators and then eventually success of their own offspring. Each flower seems to be thinking out of the box to do its best to set fruit, make seeds, then disperse, to finally land and germinate. Evolution of flowering plants is multi-layered and highly complex, doesn't the landing pad of an Iris says it all?

Iris reticulata, Pygmy Iris. (Thanks to, A.A. Co. Lawn and garden center for sharing this beauty!)

Landing pad on Iris reticulata

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