Easter Eggs

I’ve always been fascinated with Easter Eggs in computers. They’re little things hidden inside computer programs, not readily accessible. For example, clicking the right combination of keys in Excel 97, I think it was, you could play a Flight Simulator game. Other easter eggs contained different credits in the about box, maybe little movies, things like that. You get the idea.

So how is this relating to landscaping? Well, surprise in the landscape is underrated. All those boring books you can read on landscape design always talk about color schemes, patterns, plant selection, some may even venture into “rhythm”, whatever that means, but they never talk about having fun. Take Lycoris, a bulb. In front of my house are clumps of the green strap-like leaves of Lycoris, commonly named “Naked Ladies”. Yes, Naked Ladies. Because you see, these leaves will grow all spring into the summer, then die down to the ground. In September, seemingly from out of nowhere, pink flowers on long stalks emerge from the ground, naked of leaves. (I’ve always said plant people like Latin names because it eliminates confusion, but this may be the real truth, apparently. Common names are embarrasing.) For the botanically inclined, they are related to Amaryllis, which do the same thing but backwards: flowers, then leaves, then dormancy.

I’ve planted at my house a surprising hemlock, “Gentsch White“. A green hemlock where the new growth is a surprising (and beautiful) white. I’ve planted one of those at Middlebury, and not telling where.

Why I’ve been thinking about this is another easter egg plant in its glory right now, a Norway spruce cultivar. Picea abies ‘Rubra Spicata’. A full size tree, not a dwarf, ordinary in almost every way, except for a glorious week or two in the spring (now), when the new growth emerges a bright red. The picture is a tree at my house, but I bought one from Rocky Dale last year, and planted it amongst two other normal Norway Spruces. When they mature, one tree in a clump of 3 bright red, well, it’s no flight simulator game, but still.

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