Like the majority of men, I can appreciate flowers on a superficial level, but can’t get all that excited about them. It takes most of us poor blokes years to figure out that women really do love them, and even then we just learn to go with the flow and not try to figure out why it’s good to grace our wives with bouquets from time to time.

I do, however, find it a source of continual awe to behold what kinds of plants can thrive in the Novosibirsk region, given the harsh winters and short growing season. Here you’ll hear the usual kinds of jokes common to northern Minnesota and the Dakotas: “Hope you enjoyed summer. It was yesterday.” So any growth beyond green leaves and grass draws the eye to itself.

All the more so in this case. I have an acquaintance in Novosibirsk who not only loves flowers, but grows them indoors herself. What’s more, since she retired from work, she spends time photographing both indoor and outdoor foliage and sends them out to those on her e-mail list. Here are a few that she took during the last two weeks of May, just as things were really getting going. I’m impressed not only by the subject matter, but also by the composition of some of these photographs.

All right, so your tulips bloomed in March, not May. That doesn’t detract from the beauty of those that grow even in Siberia. Probably the coolish May weather is actually good for them. If I’m wrong about this, chalk it up to my knowing next to nothing about flowers.

The final days of May can be lovely in this region. The flies, gnats, and mosquitos haven’t yet emerged, as they do in June, and will have by the time you read this. The days are warm enough to be pleasant. And this is the time of flowering trees, which do very well in this region.

Having spent so many winters in Siberia, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for flowers than, as a callous male, I had before. While winter has its own peculiar beauty, the signs of spring and summer, so fleeting in this northerly climate, mean all that much more.