This week Newsletter reader Henry, a horticulturalist in England, wrote commenting on the strange-smelling basil we considered recently, and ended with these words:

"We have had much winter, but now a bit of respite. A bit of ice rain this morning, but I see the first snowdrops out of my kitchen window among the Sedum ternatum that is greening up. No natives yet in bloom, but the little Hedyotis pusilla won't be far behind."

Henry knew I'd like to hear about his snowdrops and greening Sedum ternatum (one of many stonecrop species), and that I'd be interested in knowing that in his part of the world the little Hedyotis pusilla is a native plant that announces the earliest hint of spring. I'm unfamiliar with Hedyotis pusilla, but back at Chichén Itzá we saw Hedyotis cllitrichoides, and I figure they must be similar, and it's a pleasure for me to visualize Henry waiting for his own little Hedyotis. The Chichén Itzá Hedyotis is shown at

Well, that's how it works: People who pay attention to Nature and watch for seasonal signs not only enjoy knowing who the plants are around them signaling the changes, but also we like to share the good news.

In fact, news of Henry's harbingers of spring got me to wondering this week how I might better help others enter that sphere of enchantment populated by folks like Henry and me. I've decided that maybe the best thing I can do in this Newsletter spot is to bring attention to what I call "The Standard Blossom," which you can meet at

The Standard Blossom is another of those "thought tools" I like to talk about. Here's how it works:

In your mind firmly establish a concept of the most average, unspecialized, simple and downright boring {elegant} blossom imaginable. That's the Standard Blossom. Once you have it, get straight what the Standard Blossom's parts look like, how they're positioned relative to one another, and make sure you know what job each part does. Then, whenever you meet a flower that in some way differs from the Standard Blossom -- and every flower will differ in at least some tiny way -- then you'll know that that difference is part of what makes your new flower special...

Once you start noticing exactly how blossoms of different species differ from one another, identifying the various species becomes much easier. And once You have a name, you can look it up. Maybe you'll learn about the plant's medicinal value, its edibility, maybe how it uses camouflage and chemical weapons, what its ecological importance is, whether it's rare or not... on and on. The above Standard Blossom page goes into much more detail and offers examples of how the process works. Links at the top of that page lead to other parts of our BackyardNature.Net website, the whole point of which always has been to provide "thinking tools" to people everywhere who might benefit from becoming more intimate with Nature.

As spring arrives up north, try using the Standard Blossom to learn more about Nature in your own backyard, and see if it gladdens your heart. If it does, gradually expand your backyard concept outward into the planetary biosphere. Once you get the knack of using the concept, you might discover that the Standard Blossom tool even can be adapted to other spheres of thought and feeling, offering ever greater enchantment not only with flowers but the whole Universe.

For, everything in the whole Universe is natural, and therefore subject to the human mental process of settling an image in the mind, and then observing how reality artfully and infinitely poetizes variations on the theme of that mental image.

Everything is Nature of the same nature as outside Henry's kitchen window where he sees spring's earliest greenings, thinks of the little Hedyotis pusilla, and finds something worthy of sharing with a friend.