Category: April Interest

Serviceberry, Amelanchier

March 30, 2015

…’Tis a month before the month of May,
And the Spring comes slowly up this way…

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

After our notable winter, countless people are awaiting proof that spring will arrive again. One native, arboreal accent appearing in the April landscape will be the white flowers of Amelanchier sp., commonly known as serviceberry or shadblow, and to some as Juneberry.  Amelanchier is a genus of about 20 (30) species of small trees and shrubs, found mostly in temperate North America, with a few species also native to Europe and Asia. For us in New England, they are our first native, showy-flowered, spring blossoming trees. While these primarily white (a few are initially light-pink), approximately 1-inch, thin-petaled, flowers, will persist for only a brief week at most, their arrangement in clustered racemes produce an airy, ethereal effect. Noted landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860-1951), in his 1939 book, Siftings, praised their appearance, “To see the real beauty of the Juneberry is to see its frail blossoms intermixed with snowflakes on a stormy day in early spring – youth daring the tempest…”

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Forsythia

April 3, 2014

…I begin to think about the long chronicle of forsythia
how these same flowers have blazed
through the centuries,
roused from the ground by the churning spring…

Billy Collins

Forsythia is primarily an Asian genus, and has been cultivated in Chinese landscapes since at least the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). Of the eleven generally accepted species, ten are native to eastern Asia, and just one is native to the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula, in southeastern Europe (not “discovered” until 1897). Although seemingly ubiquitous during most springs, there are no species native to North America. First introduced to European horticulture in the 1830’s, Forsythia has unquestionably become one of the popular, dependable, definitions of spring.

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Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida

April 30, 2013

Lay my ashes at the foot of a dogwood tree-
Should the tree live, that will be monument enough for me.

Irvin S. Cobb

Few trees can surpass the striking beauty of Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida in bloom. Many people, gardeners and non-gardeners alike, consider this to be the most beautiful native tree, in the eastern United States. This tree has an extensive natural range, from southern Maine, southern Ontario, and Michigan, to Texas and Florida.  When its flowers have fully expanded, in late April/early May, particularly with advantageous light, they seem to sparkle, shining through the landscape.

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Red Maple, Acer rubrum

March 28, 2013

From the earth’s loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives;
Though stricken to the heart with winter’s cold,
The drooping tree revives.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Signs of spring’s figurative and literal revival are the early flowers found on our native Red Maple, Acer rubrum. While some, but certainly not all, of these trees, may have glorious red fall foliage, it is more probable that the common name relies on the annual occurrence of dense clusters of the small, red, flowers, appearing before the leaves.  There are two distinct forms of flowers, the male and female, mostly found on separate trees, each including five small, inconspicuous, sepals and petals. Visible upon closer observation, the male flowers, have numerous stamens, composed of whitish, or yellow, erect stalks (filaments), topped by darkish-brown anthers, which produce the pollen.  Contrast these with the female flowers, having not stamens, but red, curved, antennae-like stigmas. When successfully pollinated, and fertilized, these female flowers will develop tiny pairs of winged seeds (samaras).  Often initially bright red, maturing to brown by June, these twin seeds each are attached to thin, papery, ¾ to 1-inch long wings. These wings will later help twirl away the seeds (some refer to them as maple keys), from the parent tree, a fine example of wind dispersal of seeds.

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