They say flowers correspond to types of personality: some love summer roses, others are more in for desperate primroses. Mid-February is their time. We go to quest for these flowers to the Botanic Garden of the Taurida National Vernadsky University and find ourselves in the wild spring bloom of jasmine bushes: long sprouts, strewn with small yellow flowers, as if tenderly gilded. We have heard much about winter blossoming in Yalta – but there is nothing strange about it. The amphitheatre of mountains, which protects the Yalta hollow from east, north, and west, creates subtropical climate with air temperatures reaching up to 20 degrees above zero in January and February. You will flourish there even if you don’t want to. But the center of the Crimean foothills, Simferopol, is quite a different area, one can say “it is unprotected and located high up in the mountains,” for the city is situated on the height of over 200 meters above sea level and nothing protects it from northern, especially cold north-eastern winds. It is harder to flourish here.
The famous university rosary is still asleep – rose bushes are pruned and protected from the frost, the fountain has been switched off, the sculptures are covered with cases. But near to the rosary the botanic garden meets the visitors with whole glades of primroses: here are yellow ones, and as well their “modification” with bright violet flowers on pale-green leaves, scattered all over the glade. Somewhat further on white bells of snowdrop are ringing-shining. Next to the snowdrop, with black earth in the background a bush of cloth-of-gold-crocus has sprung up – it is bright-yellow, nearly orange, it seems to have been stocked up with warmth, hardened against the cold, but bravely decorated with flowers in expectation of spring.
On the plot nearby, under the trees, stinking hellebore has thrown about its huge leaves. Big flowers with numerous stamens are luxuriantly flourishing on strong sprouts. The flowers are still greenish, nearly the same color as the leaves, but they will gradually whiten, as they grow and warmth accumulates in nature.
When looking for primroses, it is worth visiting the rock garden located in the middle of the garden. The glades between the stones are studded with small branches, lying on the ground and densely covered with tiny purple, and at times purple-yellow, roses. But here you for the first time are deceived by nature. It turns out that the flowers that resemble roses are not roses at all. This plant is called stonecrop and has numerous varieties and shapes. For the most part, you can find purple sedum stonecrop on flowerbeds, and “roses” are not flowers, they are first leaves; their rosette will spread out, shoot up, and before summer real flowers that do not resemble the “roses” at all will take shape on it.
But as you proceed, on other glades, an attentive eye will catch among the stones a tender violet flower on a thin stalk between two pale-green leaves, round like a water lily. This is the famous Cyclamen kuznetzovii Kotov et Chernova, which is a subject of hunt of the sellers of primroses. It is very tender, like a miniature torch of violet fire, which has flared up and is radiating tenderness.
On a glade nearby bright white flowers catch one’s eye. Having emerged in garlands, they display their white purity and care – in the middle of the bud there are three yellow and three bright orange utricles, which are stretching out like antennas, transferring nature’s radiograms that spring is coming. This is how spring crocus rejoices at the sun.
There is one more spring miracle nearby, Omphalodes verna, small bright blue and violet-red flowers with five petals on a short stalk. The other parts of the flower, dark and shaggy stem and leaves, have not yet woken up, but they already protect the flower from all kinds of misfortune. It is spring, an unpredictable season.
P. S.: The Day expresses its gratitude to Andrii Yena, Ph.D. in Biology, a Crimean biologist, head of the college of Southern Department of the Crimean Agro-Technological University of the National University of Biological Resources and Nature Exploitation of Ukraine for providing consultation concerning the abovementioned species.