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Evening primroses do more than flower – they flat-out perform

The sign in the front yard beckons passersby: “COME WATCH the FLOWERS BLOOM ~ 8:30.”

Around 8:20 a few nights ago, a bunch of weedy-looking plants stood up to 4 feet tall in the driveway and along the front walk, growing randomly, wherever the seeds had landed, even pushing up through branches of an azalea. Their leaves were narrow and long. Shriveled yellow blossoms hung from parts of the stems like afterthoughts. Flower pods shaped like tiny okra clung unopened in other places.

Nothing happened for about 10 minutes. Then on one pod, a tiny slit appeared. Then on another pod, another slit. And another and another.

“Feel free,” the sign said, “to come up the walk and the driveway.”

A sliver of a dainty yellow petal poked out from one of the slits. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the pod burst open with such a suddenness it seemed as if it made a sound. Pop! Four dainty petals twirled out like a pinwheel, then slowly spread flat, leaving only the stamen and pistil standing upright.

All around the driveway, petals began twirling open like dancers at dusk. Within 20 minutes, the driveway was transformed into a garden of flowers, the color of lemon drops.

Evening primroses.

A native wildflower of North America, considered a weed in some states. An herbal remedy for eczema and premenstrual syndrome. A biennial. Oenothera biennis.

This summer is not their best, said Elaine Sjogren who welcomes visitors to watch the flowers bloom in front of her house on Park Road. “It's a wonderful thing,” she said. “Why shouldn't everybody enjoy it?” As enchanting as they are to newcomers, she said this year's primroses look small to her, and straggly, perhaps because of the drought.

They usually bloom from mid-May until the end of June. The later the sun sets, she said, the later they bloom. On cloudy or rainy evenings, they open earlier.

Last night's flowers will wither in today's sun. But tonight, around 8:30, you can watch the primroses bloom again.

The sign in the front yard beckons passersby: “COME WATCH the FLOWERS BLOOM ~ 8:30.”

Around 8:20 a few nights ago, a bunch of weedy-looking plants stood up to 4 feet tall in the driveway and along the front walk, growing randomly, wherever the seeds had landed, even pushing up through branches of an azalea. Their leaves were narrow and long. Shriveled yellow blossoms hung from parts of the stems like afterthoughts. Flower pods shaped like tiny okra clung unopened in other places.

Nothing happened for about 10 minutes. Then on one pod, a tiny slit appeared. Then on another pod, another slit. And another and another.

“Feel free,” the sign said, “to come up the walk and the driveway.”

A sliver of a dainty yellow petal poked out from one of the slits. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the pod burst open with such a suddenness it seemed as if it made a sound. Pop! Four dainty petals twirled out like a pinwheel, then slowly spread flat, leaving only the stamen and pistil standing upright.

All around the driveway, petals began twirling open like dancers at dusk. Within 20 minutes, the driveway was transformed into a garden of flowers, the color of lemon drops.

Evening primroses.

A native wildflower of North America, considered a weed in some states. An herbal remedy for eczema and premenstrual syndrome. A biennial. Oenothera biennis.

This summer is not their best, said Elaine Sjogren who welcomes visitors to watch the flowers bloom in front of her house on Park Road. “It's a wonderful thing,” she said. “Why shouldn't everybody enjoy it?” As enchanting as they are to newcomers, she said this year's primroses look small to her, and straggly, perhaps because of the drought.

They usually bloom from mid-May until the end of June. The later the sun sets, she said, the later they bloom. On cloudy or rainy evenings, they open earlier.

Last night's flowers will wither in today's sun. But tonight, around 8:30, you can watch the primroses bloom again.

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