A watched Spring never boils

The problem with watching the weather is the frustration. Even my years of experience in spring anticipation somehow still hasn’t prepared me for the wait, the fits and starts of the season. The landscape waits patiently, though, and the plants are right where they need to be.

Today in blooms? Well, it’s pretty mellow. The family Betulaceae is showing it’s stuff. On campus, that would the Birch, Hornbeam, and Hop Hornbeam trees, and in shrubs the Corylus, or Hazel, genus. Michael Dirr states, of birch flowers specifically, “the birches flower in April before or with the emerging leaves; they possess a hidden beauty which is lost to most people because they have never examined or considered the birches a flowering species…” After three days of a cold rain, I’ll consider any flower.

Look for large catkins hanging from birches. They hang in clusters of three from the ends of the branches, and have been there unobserved all winter. In Birch they are male and female-in Hazel, the female flowers arise from the leaf buds.

How would I describe the flowering catkins? Ask the Dutch. Catkin comes from the dutch word katje, meaning kitten, as the flowers resemble a kitten’s tail. I’d say I’ll get around to a picture but, well, the buds are swelling on the forsythia, and I swear I saw a couple of whitish blooms on a Magnolia in front of Forest, so I probably will once again ignore the catkins. Hidden beauty is all well and good until the Magnolias start popping.

Amelanchier

There’s a new plant in bloom this week, and it’s all over the place. Amelanchier is the mouthful of a latin name, and it has several common names, including Shadblow, Serviceberry, and Juneberry. There are several in bloom by Starr/Axinn, some next to the Mahaney Center for the Arts, even some in the woods at Ridgeline. Continue reading Amelanchier

Blooming Madness

The rains of the last week are certainly helping spring appear, after a very dry March. There is all sorts of plants in bloom now, here are some of my favorites.

Redbud-Cercis canadensis. We planted 3 of these against Mumford last year, and another one on the Old Chapel Road side of Starr/Axinn. Great plant, small like a crabapple, but shade tolerant. Great as an understory plant in a woodland setting, but also well as a small speciman out in the open. Make sure if you are buying one in Vermont to get a northern grown one, there is a northern strain that is hardier than others you may buy from chain stores. Continue reading Blooming Madness

Cherry Trees

Cherry Trees-Mead Quad

One of the two cherry trees on campus is in full bloom, and the one on the north of it is getting close. I will confess that I don’t exactly know what kind of cherry tree this is-one of the drawbacks to going to a university in the north. (University of Vermont) We’re not exactly a hotbed of cherry knowledge up here. In fact, it’s not even supposed to live up here. If I had to guess, I think it’s a Sargent Cherry, Prunus sargentii. So for those keeping track, that’s starting at about 75 growing degree days. For those that read a post a while ago saying I would write a post about growing degree days, I haven’t forgotten you.

Daffodils are Blooming

daffodil`

The blue Nymph, Liriope, gave birth to a son, destined to become a mighty hero. His fate was sealed after being granted his good looks by the very gods themselves, and given immortality. Like all gifts from the gods, however, immortality came with a catch. He could remain immortal, as long as he didn’t know his own reflection.

Echo was a nubile Oread, a mountain nymph. Zeus liked the mountain nymphs, in a ballroom dancing in the old movies sort of way, and Echo would distract Zeus’ wife Hera during the indiscretions. Beware a spurned goddess, especially the wife of the almighty Zeus, who, catching wind of the plan, punished the lovely Echo by taking her voice, only allowing her to echo others.

Our hero in this story grew tall, handsome, and vain. Ironic, given that he was not allowed to view himself. Surronding yourself with admirers does present difficulties, however. One day, while hunting in the woods, the lovely Echo fell in love with our young hero, and followed from a distance. Hearing this, our boy shouts “Who’s there?”-only to hear “Who’s there?”, quieter, and a little further away. This goes on longer than you can imagine, until the hero gets angry, and leaves, spurning the unrequited love.

Echo and Narcissus, Oil Painting, 1903-John William Waterhouse

Echo pines away, weeping and wailing, consumed by her love for the boy. Finally, all that was left was her voice, which childern can still hear deep in the woods, or boorish tourists in the canyons. As she dies, she offers a prayer to Venus, the goddess of love, for punishment to the vain youth.

Nemesis, “she who ruins the proud”, hears and intercepts the prayer. She lures our hero into the woods, and takes him to a still pool of water. He gazes below his feet, and seeing his reflection, the divine penalty takes effect. He promptly falls in love, and stares into the water until he fades away. As he fades, a flower arises from the ground from where he sat entranced. The Narcissus, or Daffodil, bears his name to this day.

Easter Blooms

Drove through campus this afternoon on my way grocery shopping, and couldn’t help but take some pictures of a couple of things in bloom. It’s 70 degrees as I write, low 80’s yesterday, so that certainly sped some flower buds up I thought were going to hold on for while.

Star Magnolia-Carr Hall
Star Magnolia-Carr Hall

This is a Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata, in between Forest and Carr Hall on Route 125. Like many of the other magnolias on campus, this one is planted right on top of one of the steam lines that run from the service building to the rest of campus. It’s easy to see the steam lines, they melt snow all winter, and the grass is the first to green in the spring. Someone believed that the heat from the lines would protect what they thought was a marginally hardy plant from the harsh Vermont winters. Perfectly hardy, now the magnolias are in the way for construction. One was moved a couple of years ago from the Axinn Center up to near the tire sculpture near Hillcrest. It’s doing fine, although thinner than the others. The best Star Magnolia is out in the main quad, right behind Voter Hall, but the blooms on that one weren’t quite as open.

Star Magnolias are native to Japan. Other magnolias mimic their distribution like many conifers-some are native in southeast Asia, others native in the southeastern US and central America. Fossil Magnolias (one of the first angiosperms in the flowering fossil record) have been recorded in Europe and Greenland, suggesting that that they were widespread until the continents drifted apart, dying out in the middle of their range.

Corneliancherry Dogwood
Corneliancherry Dogwood

I’m cheating here-this is a picture from my house, although there is some near the Garden of the Seasons. Great yellow flowers right now, a week or so ahead of the forsythia (except for the one below). Large red fruit in the fall, edible but nasty sour. Very lustrous rich green leaves, nice and clean all season with no leaf spot. Not the first shrub I planted at my house, but I am glad I have one.

Crocus at Forest
Crocus at Forest
Crocus in Lawn
Crocus in Lawn

Some Crocus in random locations.

 
vtsun
This is Vermont Sun Forsythia- Forsythia mandschurica ‘Vermont Sun’. I wrote about this last year, and it was in bloom April 13. I took this picture on Friday while getting into my car to go home, so that makes it 11 days earlier this year than last.