Thursday, February 23, 2012

Early spring in the neighborhood

Work has been very busy this week so I haven’t had much time to spend in the garden or on this blog. But I plan to have a few longer posts for you very soon.

Today I took my camera on my lunchtime walk and I want to show you some scenes of early spring in our neighborhood. We live on the edge of town and have easy access to a greenbelt that extends for miles in either direction. It is used a great deal by people walking, running, bicycling or just strolling along at their leisure. Soon the majestic walnut and oak trees will leaf out, but at the moment the most prominent sights are the lush grass that grows under the trees like a green carpet and flowering fruit trees that must be left over from the time when this area was a large farm.

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Many houses in this neighborhood have flowering fruit trees, too. I can’t tell what kind they are—plum, cherry or some other member of the genus Prunus—but they sure are pretty.

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Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) seems to have gone out of fashion. You still see it occasionally in rural areas but in newer developments it’s quite uncommon. Maybe it’s because most of the year it’s an unruly tangle of thorny branches with nondescript leaves? But when it flowers in early spring, it’s a shining star. I was happy to find this specimen in somebody’s front yard, covered with delicate-looking blossoms.

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One of my favorite springtime trees is the saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana), or as I call it, “tulip tree.” The specimens in the next two photos had a particularly vivid coloration. I only wish they would bloom for a much longer period of time; a few weeks isn’t nearly enough.

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Happy wanderer (Hardenbergia violacea) is a very common vine/shrub in these parts. Most of the time I don’t pay any attention to it because it looks so ordinary, but at this time of year, it is a riot of purple. I just learned it was native to Australia.

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While I’m not the biggest fan of daffodils, there is something undeniably cheery about them that brings a smile to my face. Individual clumps are nice…

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…but drifts are even nicer.

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Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is common in far Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. You don’t see it much around here, but I found one specimen in our neighborhood park, planted along the outside perimeter.

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On the other hand, California buckeye is a common sight. It’s one of my favorite native shrubs because it combines very attractive leaves (emerging now), stunning flowers (coming in May) and very decorative seed pods (in fall). However, it has one quirk that limits its gardenworthiness: It begins to drop its leaves in mid-summer and is typically completely bare by late August. Few people want to live with a shrub that is “naked” for so long.

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As I was getting close to home, I came across this clump of lawn daisies. With their pure white petals arranged like rays around a yellow sun, they are the perfect harbinger of spring. I’m definitely ready to leave winter behind me!

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3 comments:

  1. Spring is definitely just around the corner! Lovely spring blooms there and there's something really nice about the fresh green shade of new growth in the spring!

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  2. I hope the spring rains are just around the corner. Everything is bone dry and daytime temperatures are in the low 70s. I'm hand-watering plants in 4" pots every few days now.

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