Monday, April 12, 2010

April Blossoms and Blooms

Like the song says, "I've got pieces of April.  I'll keep them in a memory bouquet,"  because some of the "pieces of April" particularly in the garden, are also some of my favorite things. Last week's unexpected heat wave caused the daffodils to fade and the tress and other flowers to flourish all over the place here at Blooming Hill and each of these April bloomers was in a race with another to see who could look their most fabulous, first.   The rainbow of color that the trees and shrubs now boast all at once, is almost too much to believe and even the early green grass got greener with the half inch of rain that came late in the week.



Always in her subtle (and often not so subtle) way, Mother Nature gave me a bit of a start when I turned the corner into the herb garden one breezy morning to find the Yoshino Cherry Tree gently snowing its petals all over the place.  Now, we all know how beautiful the first snow of the winter season can be, but can it really compete with fragrant, fluttering pink cherry blossom petals floating over sprouting flowers and herbs to the gentle rhythm of a fountain?  I think not--at least not during the month of April!



Who can talk about April without at least mentioning tulips?  The tulips throughout the garden beds are a stunning Chinese red standing sturdy against this April's  forces of nature.  A little liquid fence seems to be keeping those devil deer at bay, yet the hot, hot sun of last week tried its best to make the tulips wither before their time. They, along with me, suffered some early wilt but, despite being slapped around a bit by the heat, their resilience still shines in their happy, welcoming manner. The hyacinths are also exhibiting their staying power and are using  the tulips as their inspiration to perfume the brick walkway to the front door.


And then, there is the Pink Dogwood Tree (Cornus Florida 'rubra")--one of my special April favorites.  When it is in full bloom, the entire tree looks like one of those "wrist-let" corsages that  girls wear to their Senior Prom.  The delicate pink-tinged blossoms give the whole tree frothy, "frolicky" and feminine appeal and I keep waiting for Pollyanna to come skipping out from behind it whenever glance its way. It shamelessly flaunts itself, not only in the spring but also in the fall with deep red foliage and branches sprinkled with red berries.  Who doesn't love this tree?
 



One of my favorite of sweet-scented shrubs is the Korean Spicebush (Viburnum) that sits next to our back porch.  Even during the cool April evenings, its light perfume floats into the kitchen prompting me to keep the door open as long as I can.  Who needs to cook when all you have to do is breathe in its soft and savory smell reminiscent of cinnamon and other oriental spices.  The creamy white pom-poms made up of tiny flowers are also blushed with pink and clustered together to make this large, woody shrub a show stopper during early spring days.


The Eastern Red Bud Tree (Cercis Canadensis) is not about to be up-staged by her pink dogwood cousin, especially when it comes to Senior Prom night.  The graceful limbs are covered with frilly magenta-pink blooms that stand out beautifully against the greening landscape.  These trees, like the dogwoods are plentiful in our area and we are ever-so-lucky that we can enjoy them in person just about wherever we go around here, from the backyard, to the forest to the side of the road where they grace the scenery and bring a bit of colorful serendipity to the setting.


 

We have lavender and white rhododendron placed in many different beds around our house and while many are showing the ravages of the hungry devil deer from this past winter, the "rhodies" managed to live and tell about it.  This lavender one must have hid itself quite well from those devil deer as it is in full bloom tucked away in a back corner of the house with not a hint of bite marks on it anywhere!  It's frilly blossoms are all in their splendor enjoying their shady respite in this lovely April weather.



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Finally, there is this frothy looking bush called Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla Gardenii) down at the entrance of the driveway looking very fussy, with soft, white prickly blossoms that remind me of fluffy bottle brushes --the kind Martha Stewart would use--or, at least, very large and ripe pussy willow blossoms that are just about give way to leaves.  In either case, its puffy flowers soften the driveway entrance providing texture and color against the dusty road.  Its amazing to me that these bushes looks so cheerful and dainty with all of that dirty dust floating around down there.  It's enough to make anything want to wilt but, it goes to show that dainty can also be sturdy and stalwart when it needs to be...you go fothergilla!  These blossoms will turn into unusual creased and fuzzy leaves that also feel a bit leathery and, in the fall, the leaves turn beautiful shades of burnt umber and orange.

There is still so much more to this colorful and blossoming April to show you but it will have to wait for another day as the greenhouse and emerging plants in the garden beds are beckoning me to come and water them because the April sun is strong, even as this new week begins, thankfully, on a cooler note.  Such is an April day to keep in a memory bouquet for sometime off, I'm sure, in the not too distant future, when I could use a bit of springtime color to look back on.

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