Category: June Interest

Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia

May 28, 2020

The mountain laurel in bloom
Constructed like needlework
Tiny half-pulled stitches piercing
Flushed and striped petals…

Adrienne Rich

Mountain LaurelKalmia latifolia has long been regarded as one of our finest, flowering, native shrubs. This is a broad-leaf evergreen par excellence.  In June, its ribbed flower buds are a deep-pink, opening to pale pink, or white, cup-shaped flowers.  Most often, these flowers are at the terminal end of branches, creating an effusive floral display. Take a close look at these flowers, which have an artful, pollinating mechanism.  The five fused petals, which Rich alludes to as being stitched, surround ten stamens, the male reproductive parts. At the end of each stamen are the tiny dark-colored anthers, possessing the pollen.   Notice how the petals are indented, holding the anthers, with the stamens bent back under tension. When a bee, or other insect, lands, the stamen is catapulted, with a mousetrap-like response, increasing the successful rate of pollen covered bees/insects, hence greater cross pollination. Nature’s engineering at work, right before your eyes.

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Kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa

June 1, 2017

Sweet June. Is she of Summer or of Spring,Of adolescence or of middle-age?

A girl first marveling at touch of lovers
Or else a woman growing sage?
Between the two she delicately hovers…

Vita Sackville-West

One small tree reliably enhancing our landscape during both spring and early summer is the Kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa. Their extravagant floral display tends to persist for four to eight weeks. Each showy flower is composed of four, taper-pointed, one-to-two-inch-long, creamy-white bracts, which last far longer than true petals. The reproductive flowers are rather inconspicuous, small, yellowish-green, located in the center of the four bracts. While the trees are already in full leaf, these vivid flowers occur upon two-inch-tall erect stems (peduncle), hence the flowers are raised above the foliage creating a visually delicious frosting-like effect. Kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa traditionally have been included in the genus Cornus, which includes 30-60 species, a wide number range, but to some this taxonomy has become unsettled, even controversial, resulting from recent molecular phylogenetic review.

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Yellowwood, Cladrastis kentukea

May 31, 2016

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days.

James Russell Lowell (Lot 323 Fountain Avenue)

Perhaps you soon will enjoy one of those rare June days that Lowell waxed poetically about. Perchance you could be here at Mount Auburn, enjoying the reality envisioned by our prophetic founder Jacob Bigelow (1787-1879), professor of materia medica at Harvard Medical School for four decades. Recall a bit of his own pre-Mount Auburn abbreviated advocacy, “Travelers and mourners alike would be drawn by the place where… by the joint influence of nature and art… a landscape of the most picturesque character will be created.” Here, early to mid-June, our picturesque landscape is elegantly enhanced by a dozen Cladrastis kentukea, Yellowwood. This flowering tree is one of our nation’s alluring arboreal attractions. In bloom the white, fragrant flowers occur in 8-14-inch-long pendulous panicles, hanging from the branch tips, a sight reminiscent of white wisteria.

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Azaleas, Rhododendron sp.

April 27, 2016

…Come every spring to whisper near the tomb,
To stare, a little shaken, where the mosses mourn
And the azaleas and magnolias have not ceased to bloom…

May Sarton

“Hardy azaleas are the gayest of shrubs. The flowers of no other group present such a range of brilliant colors-white, pink, yellow, orange, salmon to flaming red and scarlet in tones of great purity and vividness.  Many species are delightfully fragrant and all are abundantly floriferous.” So wrote Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930), notable horticulturist, author, plant explorer, as he opened his chapter on azaleas in his posthumously published (1931) If I Were to Make a Garden.

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