Category: May Interest

Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda

May 2, 2017

Resurgent May, softness with energy,
Warmth after cold, reunion after loss.
It is a columbarium full of doves,
A susurration of the living leaves.

Vita Sackvile-West

Blossoms of May previously discussed include the dove tree, dogwood, crabapple, lilac, tree peony, viburnum and azalea. Sackville-West’s “softness with energy” prompts herein the addition of the exquisite, albeit notoriously vigorous, Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda. When in bloom it is one of the most beautiful flowering vines.

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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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Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis

March 27, 2016

…Spring here is at first so wary,
And then so spare that even the birds act like strangers,
Trying out the strange air with a hesitant chirp or two,
And then subsiding. But the season intensifies by degrees,
Imperceptibly, while the colors deepen…

John Koethe

One of our native, small trees possessing memorable, even spectacular, early spring color is the Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud. As it is known that men are more likely to be color blind than women, surely this tree’s name was coined by a man otherwise it might perhaps have been dubbed magenta bud, or pink bud.

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Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus & Chionanthus retusus

May 27, 2015

…And her gauzy garments fleet
Round her like a glittering sleet….

Amy Lowell

Chionanthus virginicus flower

Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus presents an outstanding spring-white, floral display. Douglas Peattie (1898-1964), in his 1948 classic book, A Natural History of Trees, expands on Lowell’s metaphorical couplet with, “…it is a raving beauty when in mid-spring it is loaded from top to bottom with the airiest, most ethereal yet showy flowers boasted by any member of our northern sylva. A faint sweet fragrance breathes subtly from the flowers.”  William Cullina, in his 2002, Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines, essentially concurring with Peattie, states, “Every spring I am completely enchanted by this tree when it fluffs into flower. There are few more transcendent sights than its thick twigs hung with clouds of sweetly fragrant, delicate flowers like so much cotton or fleece.”    Thirty years ago when I first started my focused look on these and other plants, these were early June bloomers. More recently we now can also enjoy these flowers in late-May, as well as in early-and-mid-June. The individual flowers usually have four (sometimes five) narrow, strap-like, one-inch-long petals. However, the fragrant flowers occur in great numbers, in six-to-eight-inch long, soft, fleecy, panicles.

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