Friday, April 24, 2009

Glorious Redbuds

The extra 10 day wait of this slow spring has been worth it: the redbuds are in full bloom! Most American native, spring flowering trees are white but the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) defies this color constraint with a shocking raspberry sherbet haze across local landscapes and woodlands. The nectar rich blooms are edible to us and attract a wide array of pollinators and beneficial insects.

Redbuds are a personal favorite not only for the color of their bloom, but also for their strikingly artistic trunks, often cloaked in blue-gray and golden-green lichens and flowers too! If you like sculpture, their is no finer organic artisan than an aged redbud.
Senior Gardener, Janet Heter, maintains the redbud collection at Powell Gardens, which is found on the walk to and surrounding the Faye Jones designed, Marjory Powell Allen Chapel.

Wild and planted Redbuds refresh the scene and paint the woods edge near the Chapel Trolley stop.
A real pink flowering redbud? Yes, this is the pink-pink flowering cultivar 'Tennessee Pink' Redbud which is in full bloom at the entrance to the woodland walk to the chapel. Look for other varieties of redbud in this area!
Gazing down the woodland walk to the chapel it opens up to reveal the chaple landscape surrounded in blooming White Redbuds (Cercis canadensis 'Alba'). Wild native redbuds splash their color as a backdrop that highlight the white-flowering beauties.
A White Redbud blooms beyond the Faye Jones designed fountain in front of the chapel.
A view to the west sparkles with White Redbuds in bloom along the woodland's edge. White flowering trees and white flowers have symbolized purity across many religions so their use in the chapel landscape is most appropriate.
Flowering Dogwood is the classic companion to redbuds. We planted Flowering Dogwoods (Cornus florida) that we grew from seed near the Chapel Trolley stop and they are beginning to bloom well. It takes 6 years for a seedling to flower. I actually like the rich colors of their bloom in its emerging stage (you can see them at this stage throughout the gardens).
This seedling dogwood we grew has interesting peach pink bracts that open to apple blossom pink, blushed white flowers. This demonstrates the value of growing some of our plants from seed! (See the prior "Birth of Trees" blog). We have a unique dogwood you can see nowhere else -- it is just behind the Chapel Trolley stop and is still a young tree.
Be sure to look down and see the native Toadshade Trilliums (Trillium sessile) blooming along the walk to the chapel. Look for these wildflowers as well: from Cream Violets and Virginia Bluebells to Woodland Phlox and Merrybells.
We have some unusual colored Toadshade Trilliums too. This one has atypical lighter colored blooms.
And as a footnote to your visit to Powell Gardens in redbud season, the Baltimore Orioles made their epic journey last night and returned along with fallout of countless Neotropical Songbirds. The gardens are alive with their calls and donated oranges have been placed outside the Cafe so we can lure them in for you to get a closer look. (The picture is from Betsy Betros of a Baltimore Oriole on a peanut feeder last year).

Come celebrate the rebirth of the growing season with spectacular birds and bloom at Powell Gardens. The colors and song of spring should last into mid-May. Peak redbud bloom will be this weekend, peak dogwood and azalea bloom in an additional week.

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