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Outdoors: April Showers

"April Showers," composed by Louis Silvers in 1921, was first performed by Al Jolson in the Broadway musical, "Bombo."

The lyrics were by Buddy DeSylva but the words: "Though April showers may come your way, They bring the flowers that bloom in May,” came from a proverb dating back at least 600 years.

"The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffery Chaucer (translated into modern English) begins with:

“When April’s sweetest showers downward shoot, the drought of March is pierced right to the root, through every vein with liquid of such power, and virtue that it generates the flower.”

Chaucer and DeSlyva were both right.

April showers are special. 

Woodland wildflowers seem to magically pop up after April showers, but May flowers — their buds, their leaves, their minimized stems —were formed during the previous growing season.

In other words, the flowers that will bloom in May this year were actually formed in May last year.  

The moisture of April showers, combined with the lengthening hours of daylight and warmth, stimulate the rapid  growth of woodland flowers.

These plants have the narrowest time window to do all of their growing for the year. 

It usually takes a spring wildflower three, four, or even five to six years to store enough food to produce flowers.

And to make and store food, plants need a lot of sunlight and adequate moisture.

Following April showers, plants expand their leaves, bloom and are pollinated. 

After woodland wildflowers set seed, the plants still needs to collect more solar energy as fast as possible in order to grow leaves, stems and flowers for next year, because in the forest by the middle of May, the leaves of deciduous trees unfurl, forming a dense canopy and creating shade.

As soon as the trees leaves open, the growing season is essential over for the woodland plants.

So, May flowers truly need the April showers.   

“It isn't raining rain, you know. It's raining violets.”

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.