Photographing Nantucket: Spring Blossoms

Published by Robin Slick, April 28, 2020

After a windy and cold winter, here they come, spring flowers to brighten our days! On the ACK, for sure daffodils are all the rage this time of year, but they are not the only flowers blooming. Poking around town, I find all sorts of beauties popping up from the ground and flowering on trees. My friend and fellow photography enthusiast, Tim Walker, also enjoys exploring the island, and captures the beauty of these flowers. 

IMG_6831Star Magnolia (Magnolia Stellata) by Tim Walker

A flowering tree, the star shape of its flowers gives it both its common name and scientific name. Originally from Japan and introduced to the U.S. in the 1860's, it is one of the smallest magnolias, producing white flowers in early spring. It can be grown as a large shrub or pruned as a small multi-stemmed tree growing up to 15 - 20 feet. They are denser and more compact than saucer magnolias (below) and flower just before them.

The saucer magnolia is also a flowering tree or large shrub that was originally created by cross-breeding Magnolia liliflora (lily magnolia, a shrub form) and M. denudata (lilytree). The plant has a nicely rounded crown, and the native species has pinkish-white flowers.

IMG_6939Saucer Magnolia Tree, Nantucket Atheneum Garden by Robin Slick
IMG_6828Back Street Blooms by Tim Walker


IMG_6824Flowering Trees on Main Street by Tim Walker


IMG_6848Hyacinths on N. Water Street by Robin Slick

Hyacinths vary in color from bright pink to soft blue. Pink hyacinths like these mean "playful joy," the essence of spring. The grape hyacinths (below) are not actually directly related to hyacinths. Their name comes from the Greek word for musk (moschos) due to the scent of some species. It is called Grape hyacinth because its flowers look like bunches of grapes and they are similar to Hyacinth. These flowers symbolize power, confidence, mystery and creativity. 


Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) on N. Water Street by Robin Slick
IMG_6898Tulips on Fair Street by Robin Slick

The tulip, also known by its scientific name Tulipa, originates from Central Asia. The tulip’s name comes from the Persian word for turban, because in full bloom tulips have a turban-like shape. One of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, they can also mean rebirth and the Victorians often associated tulips with charity. Although known to mean "perfect love" usually associated with red varieties, other colors have different meanings. Pink meaning happiness & confidence; Purple meaning royalty; Yellow meaning cheerful thoughts; and White meaning forgiveness.

IMG_6882Red Flowing Tree on Orange Street by Robin Slick
IMG_7026Azaleas on Candle Street by Robin Slick

A more delicate flower, azaleas stand for love, gentleness, femininity and fragile passion that is still developing. They are part of the rhododendron family. On average, rhododendrons are larger shrubs than azalea plants, and they have larger leaves. Also, azalea flowers usually have five stamens, while the rhododendron flowers have ten. 

IMG_6719Cherry Blossoms on S. Water Street by Robin Slick

Nothing beats a cherry blossom tree in full bloom! There are several varieties and while most produce flowering branches full of small pinkish flowers, some of them do produce cherries. The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years where they represent the fragility and the beauty of life. Since they bloom for a short time, they serve as a visual reminder of how precious and how short life is. 

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Robin Slick

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