Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells…
Contrarian or not, there are many gardeners and non-gardeners alike who would find that any gardens grow exquisitely fine if they include Carolina Silverbell, Halesia tetraptera. This mid-size tree, 30-40-feet tall (occasionally up to 80-feet) is native from West Virginia to Florida and west to Oklahoma. When in flower later in the month of May, these trees are often profusely bejeweled with dangling white, ½ to ¾-inch, bell-shaped flowers, beginning just before the trees leaf out and lasting for perhaps two weeks. The effect of viewing a good-sized, leafless tree covered with white flowers often stops visitors mid-stride. An ensuing curious effect occurs as the wilting flowers fall within the canopy envelope creating a snow-like appearance surrounding the base of the tree’s trunk. (more…)
…Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for ambition,
But some days I’d rather steep in my own kettle.
Give me chamomile, cowboys, cornelian cherries.
Let me sink, once again, into purposeless sleep.
After enduring a full month of March that was more often like a lion than a lamb, let us welcome the flowers of April. Sprightly, lightening our landscape in early April are the golden haze of flowers of the Corneliancherry dogwood, Cornus mas. Plants’ common names versus their Latin names may occasionally produce mini-conundrums, red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is not a cedar (Cedrus), mountainash (Sorbus) is not an ash (Fraxinus), blue beech (Carpinus) is not a beech (Fagus), tulip poplar (Liriodendron) is not a poplar (Populus), etc.
Corneliancherry dogwood is not a cherry (Prunus), not even in the same botanical family as cherries, Rosaceae, the rose family. Rather this is a less well-known species of dogwood, in the genus Cornus. This genus with at least 30 species is more often known for two of its showy ornamentals, our native flowering dogwood and the summer blooming kousa dogwood. (more…)
Let us whir with the golden spoke-wheels
Of the sun.
For tomorrow Winter drops into the waste-basket,
And the calendar calls it March.
– Amy Lowell (Lot # 3401 Bellwort Path)
The scientific definition of the beginning of spring occurs with the vernal equinox (March 20). But, locally, we have experienced snowfall on the running of five Boston Marathons (1907, 1908, 1925, 1961, and 1967) and two Boston Red Sox games in Fenway Park were snowed out on April 8th and 10th in 1996. Boston had a half-inch of snow on May 10, 1977. This year, we place great hope in Lowell’s poetic weather prognostication. For many of us, the lovely sights of the first flowers opening from bulbs are our own “signs of spring”. Flowering bulbs, corms, and tubers, which are modified perennial, herbaceous plants, are currently, or soon will be, offering spring delights for many visitors, in numerous locations, throughout our landscape. (more…)
their hoofprints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night
under the pines…
Within Mount Auburn there are approximately 450 pine trees, representing two-dozen distinct species, out of the 125 Pinus species extant worldwide. Herein we look at the Jeffrey pine, Pinus jeffreyi, native to southwestern Oregon, California and into some mountains of northern Baja California. Most often growing at elevations between 5000 and 9500-feet, in the northern coast ranges it also occurs almost at sea level.
Its common and Latin names commemorate the man who introduced it, John Jeffrey (1826-1854?), Scottish plant collector/explorer, sent to the Pacific Northwest and California in 1850, by British gentlemen subscribers interested in new plants. Initially signed to a three-year contract, representing the Oregon Association of Edinburgh, four of his eventual ten shipments of boxes of specimens and seeds never arrived back to Edinburgh. Nonetheless 119 species of seeds (including P. jeffreyi) and over 400 plant specimens of new and unusual flora were his documented success. After early 1854 he mysteriously disappeared, never to be heard from again. Author Frank A. Long states, “John Jeffrey was like a shooting star, a quick twinkle soon extinguished.” (more…)