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In embattled Ukraine, spring flowers take on patriotic hues

In her garden in western Ukraine, Ivanna Kuziv, a retired accountant in her late 60s, collects an armful of yellow daffodils and bluebells to sell at the market.

The fact that the flowers in her garden are wearing the colors of the national flag this week is purely coincidental, she says.

“But I like it. It’s in honor of Ukraine.”

Most days of the week, retired accountant Ivanna Kuziv snags some daffodils, throws them in a bucket filled with water, and heads into town to sell them Most days of the week, retired accountant Ivanna Kuziv snags some daffodils, throws them in a bucket filled with water, and heads into town to sell them Photo: AFP / Yuriy Dyachyshyn

Since Russia invaded their country in February, the population of the surrounding town of Vynnyky has shrunk.

Many mothers and children have fled abroad, leaving behind the men struggling for work and waiting to be drafted.

“People are scared,” she says.

The flower business isn't doing as well as it used to, says florist Myroslava Kumechko The flower business isn’t doing as well as it used to, says florist Myroslava Kumechko Photo: AFP / Yuriy Dyachyshyn

But spring doesn’t wait, and the garden she inherited from her great-grandmother is in full bloom.

Most days of the week, Kuziv grabs a few daffodils, throws them in a bucket filled with water, and heads into town to sell them.

Ukrainian children are taught that the national flag consists of two colored stripes, one representing the blue sky and the other a field of wheat.

Olga Fityo-Styslo sells two types of daffodils at the flower market - one in its natural color, the other tinted after feeding a mixture of water and navy blue ink Olga Fityo-Styslo sells two types of daffodils at the flower market – one in its natural color, the other tinted after feeding a mixture of water and navy blue ink Photo: AFP / Yuriy Dyachyshyn

In Lviv, these colors have become ubiquitous – in fluttering flags wedged in car doors, in patriotic dumplings and cakes served in restaurants, but also in bouquets of flowers.

In the city center, two women in long coats carry large saffron and indigo daisies to the cathedral for a well-attended military funeral.

Among the dozens of men and women who silently walk behind the hearse afterwards, a soldier clutches dangling tulips of both colors in his fist.

Ivanna Kuziv says it's pure coincidence that the flowers in her garden are the colors of the national flag Ivanna Kuziv says it’s pure coincidence that the flowers in her garden are the colors of the national flag Photo: AFP / Yuriy Dyachyshyn

On the platform, a 22-year-old soldier with 101 yellow tulips wrapped in blue ribbon is impatiently awaiting the arrival of his girlfriend from the embattled East, who has not been seen for two months.

Olga Fityo-Styslo sells two types of daffodils at the flower market – one in its natural color, the other tinted after feeding a mixture of water and navy blue ink.

Aside from buckets full of daffodils, Myroslava Kumechko says 70 percent of their business before the war came from baptisms, anniversaries and weddings Aside from buckets full of daffodils, Myroslava Kumechko says 70 percent of their business before the war came from baptisms, anniversaries and weddings Photo: AFP / Yuriy Dyachyshyn

“We have a war going on and the color of the flag is blue and yellow,” she says.

“But since there are no blue flowers in early spring, I decided to give nature a little boost.”

The 55-year-old, who has been selling flowers at the market since 1996, said she stopped working for a few days after the war broke out.

When she returned in early March, she was surprised to have so many customers.

The city’s population had been swelled by families fleeing war-torn eastern and southern Ukraine with very little.

“There were a lot of displaced people and they wanted flowers,” she says.

“They find something positive in them.”

Though not the nation’s colors, bright petals are all over the western city.

Holding a huge bouquet of fuchsias, roses and tulips, a doctor’s assistant on leave waits for her friend to withdraw money from an ATM. It’s the friend’s birthday and they’re going for a walk.

At the foot of a Marian monument, an old woman prays in front of jars of pink tulips. The statue was surrounded by scaffolding, but those trying to protect it from the Russian bombardment seem to have run out of sandbags.

But the flower business isn’t doing as well as it used to, says florist Myroslava Kumechko.

In addition to buckets full of daffodils, says the 40-year-old, 70 percent of her business before the war came from baptisms, anniversaries and weddings.

But that income is gone now, and she can’t stay in the market too long because she has to go home to her three kids who are studying online.

“It’s not like it used to be,” she says.

https://www.ibtimes.com/embattled-ukraine-spring-flowers-take-patriotic-hues-3476109?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution In embattled Ukraine, spring flowers take on patriotic hues

Brian Ashcraft

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