Posts Tagged Apple Serviceberry
Blossoms abound, bird song delights ears from dawn to dark, pollen is ubiquitous — yup, I’d say spring is most definitively here. Those are petals from a redbud tree floating in that little birdbath. Here’s one of the native redbud trees adorning our landscape at the moment:
Along with all the flowers, native wildlife is suddenly more evident everywhere, especially the water-loving birds. In addition to the Wood Ducks that nest along our creek every spring, this year, a pair of Canada Geese has moved in. I see them paddling up and down the creek at dawn most mornings. They seem to have claimed the downstream end, while the Wood Ducks dabble in the waters upstream. The geese will leave as soon as their young are adept fliers. But I’ll likely see the family patrolling the floodplain for about a month before they leave.
More exciting than these waterfowl is the return of the Belted Kingfishers. Every day now, I see and hear one flying the length of our adjacent creek, calling raucously before it settles on a good fishing perch.
The water birds are here because the creek is healthier than it has been in recent springs. Water levels are back to optimal levels, thanks to abundant rains. The surrounding wetlands are very, very wet, dissected by many water-filled channels, where crayfish and frogs thrive. The cinnamon ferns have unfurled their fiddleheads, the glossy green leaves of Atamasco Lilies promise imminent flower shoots, and any day now I expect to spot Jack-in-the-Pulpits poking up out of the mud.
My two gorgeous early-blooming Magnolia acuminata varieties have been perfuming the air and delighting the eye for several weeks now. ‘Butterflies,’ as usual, was the first variety to bloom, its 25-foot tall frame covered in deep yellow blossoms.
Magnolia ‘Elizabeth,’ now 50 feet tall, started opening her paler yellow blossoms about a week after Butterflies started. She still sports many gorgeous blooms, but I fear the mini-heat wave we’re getting this weekend will finish off the display all too quickly.
In the last few days, my three Serviceberry trees have begun opening abundant pure white flower clusters. I think last summer’s rains were good for them. They’ve never been more covered in flowers. Maybe this will be the year they produce enough fruits for both the birds and me.
Over the years, I have no idea how many different kinds of daffodils I’ve added to our five acres, nor do I remember most of their names. But I do know that I made a point of planting varieties that would bloom from late winter through late spring. This succession of increasingly abundant blossoms every spring never seems too adversely affected by whimsical weather patterns. In fact, whenever spring cool spells and/or rainy weather is predicted this time of year, I routinely cut a quick bouquet of beauteous blooms to keep me company indoors until the sun returns. These varieties started blooming about the middle of last week:
The previous owner had planted forsythia, a ubiquitous southeastern spring landscape shrub. I relocated the bushes from my front door to an area near my road. Their abundant blooms seem to indicate they had no objections.
The Golden Ragwort is just starting its own parade of yellow blossoms:
The earliest blooming native deciduous azalea on the north side of my yard is about to burst into bloom. The other species/varieties are full of swelling flower bud clusters.
The spring ephemeral wildflowers I showed you in my previous post are zooming through their life cycles as promised.
In short, my five acres of green chaos is busting out all over. Alas, it’s not just the invited plants reproducing so enthusiastically right now. I am walking like a bent-over granny on evenings preceded by a day of weeding. The winter weeds got light years ahead of me in the vegetable garden area this year. Before I can plant, they must go, and that work isn’t nearly as much fun as it once was (hah!)
But the spring veggies are looking good, despite mini heat waves, heavy rains, and occasional frosts. And the summer vegetables, herbs, and flowers are growing tall and eager safely tucked in the greenhouse, waiting for more stable weather and weed-free beds.
Aye, there’s the rub — weed-free beds. I see many pollen-filled, sweaty days of joint-punishing work in front of me. But all the hard work pays off times ten when we dine on fresh-picked salads, juicy tomato-and-basil sandwiches, and green beans the likes of which you’ll never taste unless you grow them yourself.
And when I need a break from the veggie garden, I renew my resolve with a flower-filled walk around the landscape. Nothing puts a fresh spring in my step better than Spring!
Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone. However, the above photo is no joke. That’s a close-up of one of our three Apple Serviceberry trees, all of which are just beginning to bloom. Serviceberries are native trees, but the ones we planted are a named cultivar called Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Cole’s Select.’
Here’s what a typical blooming branch looks like:
Cole’s Select is a cross between A. arborea and A. laevis, and was selected for its larger flowers, thicker, glossy leaves, and its fabulous bright orange-red fall color. I added our trees for the fall color (we don’t have that many trees that turn fiery in fall), and for the fruits.
My references tell me that the fleshy fruits are delicious in pies and jams, but I may never know, because the minute these berry-like fruits ripen, the birds devour them. We always get good fruit set; the bees seem very drawn to the flowers, busily pollinating them from dawn to dusk on warm spring days.
I don’t remember when we planted them, but I’m guessing it was about ten years ago. What were 2-foot-tall saplings are now 15 feet tall and about 10-12 feet wide. The two growing near the creek at the bottom of the hill are blooming. The one in a cold spot higher on the hill is not yet open for business.
Serviceberry got its name from its association with circuit-riding preachers of rural southern areas in the days before paved roads. These clergymen could only travel when wintry wet, muddy roads became passable again, and this usually coincided with the bloom time of the Amelanchiers — hence one of their common names: Serviceberry, because traveling clergy could once again reach outlying communities and hold services.
Amelanchiers have another equally colorful name: Shadbush. Apparently, these trees tend to bloom about the same time as shad (a native fish) make their annual migrations up local creeks and rivers to their breeding grounds.
Whatever name you choose, you will enjoy this native understory tree, especially if you plant it against some evergreens to accentuate its spring flowers and fall color. We have been delighted with our Serviceberry additions. And who knows, maybe someday we’ll even get a chance to taste the fruits.