Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…Well, no, that is truly Fake News. Yet, upon returning from China to Springtime busting out all over in Ohio, I was mesmerized by the buzzing bees and budding birches; the blending of sweet birch catkins and flowering dogwood bracts above. Welcome to the Show! And right here in the Wayne County ChatScape.
Up first, with a nod to China, is a golden-leaved ‘Ogon’ cultivar of dawnredwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
Next is a native understory tree, flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, with its showy bracts (modified leaves with flower clusters in its axils). Cornus florida subspecies florida spans the eastern U.S. from Maine to Florida and another subspecies, Cornus florida subsp. urbiniana dips into northern Mexico, that has cool incurved bracts. Flowering dogwood is the state flower of North Carolina and the state tree of Missouri. Virginians are all-inclusive, granting flowering dogwood both state tree and flower status.
Katsuratree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum with its rose-tinged soft green young leaves, its ululating salmon-colored stamens and aqua-tinted fruits blows me away this time of year and as the leaves change to a green-blue color in Summer and an apricot hue in Fall.
Crabapples always have a place in the ChatScape, and a favorite is ‘Candymint’, a cultivar of Malus sargentii, that Tom Simpson noted at the edge of his nursery in Vincennes, Indiana, lo several decades ago. Instead of the white flowers of the usual M. sargentii, ‘Candymint’ has oozing peppermint pinwheels of pinks and white. Seen here at the golden hour and then later at dusk.
Japanese kerria, Kerria japonica, is at its most showy right now, with several weeks of yellow-orange color (the double-flowered Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’ has more orange – see an example here from the Beijing Botanic Gardens). My wife Laura loves the phenological parade of yellows: from daffodils to forsythia to kerria.
The multiple charms of maples ever amazes me, and here are two for today: the surprising elongate leaves of hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium) and the soft leaves and flower clusters of the Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum), both purchases years ago at the Plant Discovery Day Sale at OSU’s Secrest Arboretum in Wooster (Saturday, May 13 this year).
And for one last tree: Sassafras, Sassafras albidum, such a lovely native tree for us, I would like to take it home with us, wait, it has already made a home with us, with many lovely saplings in our back yard. Most note sassafras for its three-shaped leaves; entire, with one mitten-like thumb, with two lobes. But the lovely chartreuse flowers – that is the best for me.
Yet even with these sense-bending splendors of springtime (ah, the aromas of ‘Candymint’), of enjoying the natural and nurtured world we inhabit as plant lovers and tenders, inebriate of air, debauchee of dew in Dickinson poesy, we also can look forward only a few weeks away, to the season of berries…to out past the backyard of the ChatScape to the Rittman Orchards, and…
Strawberry Fields Forever…