The golden color of spring.
The golden color of spring.
After my whining last Friday about how we were never going to get spring, a few warm days have brought out the flowers.
You can see how early it is. The trees still have no leaves and very little is greening up. These photos were taken April 14–the very day that I was whining that we don’t have spring.
So it’s nice to see a little color to prove me wrong.
On Friday I talked about picking a plant that looked most like every other plant. This is a good rule no matter what type of plant you are buying.
Today I want to get into a few more specifics about what to do when you get to the garden center–and let’s presume you are at a garden center today, simply because it will have more signage about varieties and possibly more information on the plant tags that will be accurate for your location.
What do I mean by that? When I go to a box store, I am told that the plant “lantana” is a perennial. That’s technically true. It is not, however, a perennial for me here in New England.
I know that in some parts of the country lantana is considered an invasive pest and can grow to the size of a shrub. Here, we grow it as a nicely behaved hanging basket that has flowers that feed our butterflies and hummingbirds and the plant dies at the first hard freeze. See what I mean now about “for your location?”
So, when you walk into your garden center, depending on where you are, you might find lantana in a hanging basket, you might find it with the perennials, or you might not find it at all because it is invasive in your part of the country. There you are. But chances are, you’re not going to just find it willy-nilly labeled “perennial.”
I know the box stores are working on this–and one reason has to do with their guarantee for a year. They don’t want New England customers bringing in their dead lantana the following spring and asking for a refund–and rightly so! No one is happy in that scenario.
Enough plants die in our now unpredictable winters that they shouldn’t have to give for plants that are mis-labeled. But if they mis-label them, well, they get what they deserve.
Apparently I have gone on long enough about why you should be going to the garden center for your spring plant shopping and not a box store–at least if you are a brand new plant buyer. We’ll talk about what to look for on Friday.
These two maples are in front of our house. They are covered in English ivy, something that can be terribly invasive in many parts of the country but is kept in check in our part of the country primarily by the cold ( at least for now. In the future, who knows?)
This time of year when the maples have no leaves, I always think that the ivy makes their trunks look sort of like lollipops. But at least it’s some green in an otherwise bleak time while we wait for other things to start blooming!
I planted this tree in 1997. I bought it as a tiny sapling, on close out, the prior year. I had originally planned to make it into a bonsai.
After a nearby dogwood showed signs of decline, I decided that I would plant the maple instead and let it grow up as the dogwood declined.
I am not sure what I was thinking about when I planted it in this narrow spot. Talk about wrong place! Nevertheless, the tree has thrived and has found a way to cope.
And despite the presence of the above ground roots, don’t think that the tree is compromised. I have talked about my rock ledge many times. This is how trees in my yard have to cope. All of our trees look like this .
Autumn in New England.
Do you know this tree? It is a Katsura tree. It also comes in a weeping form.
It looks pretty unremarkable now. You can just see touches of its yellow fall color showing up on some of the outer branches.
What’s remarkable is that the leaves are scented, however. I have heard this for years but I sort of discounted it. I have never really smelled much of anything from this tree (it’s on my street, but I have walked by it for years with my dogs.)
Over the years, I have even picked up hands full of the fallen leaves to sniff to try to find a scent, but nothing.
This year is entirely different. I can be on the opposite side of the street and get a scent from the tree.
What does it smell like? Some people say chocolate and others say vanilla. I will just say that it smells sweet. And it’s not a strong, cloying sweet like some of the plants (my snake plants come to mind here). It’s just a sweet scent in the air that if I didn’t know that the tree had fragrant leaves, I would be losing my mind trying to find the flower making the scentrip.
Obviously it is a large tree so it is not right for every home. But if you have the space for a tree like this, you might consider planting one. It will surprise you.