Yesterday’s News

Farewell, Butterflies

The vernal equinox occurred during the wee hours this morning. Astronomically speaking, that makes spring officially here. As is true for much of the United States this year, the news is entirely anticlimactic.

My early spring bloomers have not only been blooming for weeks, many of them finished almost as soon as they started, thanks to the record heat and drought that continues to plague my corner of the Piedmont in North Carolina.

Case in point: my lovely Magnolia ‘Butterflies.’ Two days after it began blooming, petal drop started. The above photo was taken three days ago. Now almost all the petals have dropped.

Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ didn’t wait her usual week after Butterflies to commence her floral display. Instead, she peaked the same day the photo above of Butterflies was taken. Here’s a shot of the whole tree. Elizabeth is a knock-out — visually and aromatically — when she is at her peak like this:

Regal Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ holds court among the pines

Wonder Spouse took all these photos, by the way. You may well want to click on them to enlarge them, so you can fully appreciate their quality. Here’s a close-up of Elizabeth’s flowers taken the same day as the above photo:

Elizabeth’s pale yellow flowers fade to a soft parchment white shortly after opening

The Bloodroots growing on my north-east-facing slope above the creek began blooming about the same time that Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ got started.  Here’s one that’s been open for a couple of days:

Look fast; Bloodroots don’t last long even in good years.

And here’s what most of them looked like that day:

Bloodroot petals lie discarded on the ground as the seed capsule expands.

Not to be outdone by these precocious bloomers, the first flowers of my native Pinxterbloom Azalea were nearly open the same day that the above photos were taken (March 17). That’s three weeks ahead of last year.

Really? So soon?

For the first time that I can remember, my oak trees are racing the Loblolly Pines to see which will release their pollen first. I think it may well be a tie. I cannot remember that happening before. Not ever in all the 5+ decades I’ve lived in North Carolina.

So, Vernal Equinox — welcome, I guess. The party started well before your arrival this year. And it’s already well on its way to its conclusion. I just hope that by the time the Summer Solstice arrives, my landscape doesn’t look too much like the Sahara Desert.

One of countless Grape Hyacinths that randomly pop up in parts of our “lawn” this time of year — whatever season you choose to call it.

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  1. #1 by douglas terhune on April 13, 2014 - 8:44 am

    I live in Kansas, and have my entire life. There’s nothing that can compare to a Kansas sunset, the rustle of the wind as it passes through a field of golden wheat ready for harvest, or the beauty of the Tall Grass Prairie when the big bluestem and sumac take on their autumn hues.

    But part of me craves the coming of spring in the Eastern Deciduous Forests. All the spring ephemerals, the new flush of growth as the trees return from winter dormancy and the general Cathedral like feel one gets beneath the canopy of ancient trees. While I’ll never live there, your blog, and others like it give me a front row window to your experience.

    Keep up the good work so that those of us who are tree challenged, whether by location or occupation can still have a window into your reality.

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on April 13, 2014 - 12:46 pm

      Wow, Douglas. Thanks for the kind words — and the vivid description of your local environment. It sounds beautiful, and I would love to see it — briefly. Wide open spaces give me the heebie-jeebies after a while. 🙂 I am a life-long forest dweller, and content to remain one.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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