Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Redbud and Tulips~
The current chill is exactly what we needed to assure beautiful blooms on the Peonies this year. They need a good dose of cold in order to produce bountiful flowers. Luckily, we lost only a few mid-blooming Jonquils that were in the boot last week.
The fabulous Redbud, our state tree, has begun to bloom and can be seen dotting the landscape everywhere. The delicate lavender and fuchsia flowers crawl along the bare branches before the heart-shaped leaves emerge, thus making it one of the earliest signs of spring. The Redbud is an ancient species common in North America, Europe, Japan, and Asia where it can grow as tall as 40 feet. It is also called the Judas tree because of the belief that Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ, hanged himself on a Redbud tree.
The early tulips have begun to bloom as well. With over 3,000 varieties available at affordable prices, there are tulips for every taste. Gardeners can plan a continuous spring show by planting several varieties which bloom in successive intervals. The early pastel heirloom, the mid-blooming fragrant ruffled, and finally the late blooming sexy-scalloped parrot will provide continuous flowers for almost a month each spring.
One year we bought several hundred bulbs at a Fall close out sale for pennies on the dollar. Of course they were not top quality, but still we imagined at least some of them would produce a show for us. I carefully planted mine in appointed places in the beds while Michael tossed his indiscriminately into the vinca. I must admit, his looked far better than mine peeking up from the greenery here and there as an early spot of color.
Tulips make lively indoor arrangements and it is delightful to be able to bring cut flowers inside this early in the season. Do remember that tulip stems continue to grow several inches after they have been cut. This is the reason that many tulip displays tend to develop a droop over the edge of the vase after several days. This effect is quite attractive but choose a vase that will allow for dramatic flow.
Several retail outlets are offering marigolds and other summer annuals for sale now. It is too early for these flowers, who like it hot, and they will not survive erratic spring weather so it is best to wait awhile before purchasing them.
However they could all be started from seed on a windowsill now and they will be ready for the garden at the perfect time.