Spring is sprung, the grass is riz; I wonder where the flowers is?
That’s not the way it is around my house. Many spring flowers have come and gone, and my grass is not greening up very well.
The hellebores (Lenten roses) started blooming in early February. That’s normal. They are among the tougher plants in the woods. We started out with four. Now we have hundreds. They run like crazy; just give them a blend of sun and shade.
They bloom off and on almost all year. Freezing temperatures don’t bother them much. Deer and other nibbling animals don’t like them. They’ll pop up anywhere because their seeds spread so easily.
Forsythias are in full show, but the hyacinths and jonquils strutted for a while and now they’re just green.
I finally killed the redbud tree. They look fine when they’re red-budding, but they spread like wildfire and shed enormous amounts of branches and seed pods. They’ll grow anywhere. I think with the right amount of care — more than I care to give — they might be manageable.
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Their seeds are tough. I still see one pop up from time to time. The redbud is like the crape myrtle and the smoke tree. If you plant one, you will have more. We have smoke trees all over the place. We never bought one. Birds planted a couple for us, now they have to be thinned out regularly.
Another such plant is the mahonia, a type of holly that’s really a bush but can grow tall if left unattended. It has very sharp spines on its leaves and huge clusters of beautiful, bright yellow “berries.”
They aren’t berries. They’re seed pods. When they pop and release pretty flowers (and thus the seeds), the trouble begins. Birds love the seeds and will spread their love everywhere they fly. Like other seeds spread by birds, they come with their own fertilizer.
There are two ways to keep them from spreading profusely and sprouting everywhere you don’t want a plant bristling with daggers to grow. One, don’t get one. Two, enjoy the colorful seed pods for a few days, then cut them out and turn them to mush.
We still see galax in the woods once in a while, but the spells of drought over the past several years were hard on them, and I haven’t seen a jack in the pulpit for some time.
Still, it’s spring — when sleepers awake and woods and lawns reanimate. What a great time of year. I never finish my winter jobs on time, but if I don’t clear away all the leaves I should, the flowers still break through to announce cold weather is getting the boot.
Obviously, I like some growing things better than others and a few not very much. At all.
There are many businesses that can supply anyone with all the flowers, shrubs and veggies you can handle. The selection is staggering. Just read the details about sun, shade and best soil conditions. It’s probably soil conditions that make me have to almost start from scratch every year with grass.
Spring is fun. We have wild flowers and the so-called domesticated flowers and shrubs that have been carefully cultivated for many generations. Mahonia, hellebore and such are not completely domesticated, however, unless you consider a roaming herd of buffalo as gentle house pets.
I really like those plants. They look really good. But they’re not the kind of plant you can leave unsupervised. Some plants, if you don’t want to mess with them, then you shouldn’t mess with them.
I love to watch the woods awaken. It’s a something I never get tired of seeing. It won’t be too long before the annual light show. I speak of fireflies. When they first hatch, they tend to gather in the tops of trees. They float as if they’re dancing.
The show doesn’t last long, so be alert. Remember, you have to look before you can see, and some of nature’s wonders appear and pass in the wink of an eye. Fireflies are with us for many weeks, but they soon scatter.
I love this time of year. Is that strains of “Appalachian Spring” I hear? Why yes it is. Most appropriate. If you haven’t heard it, play it. You’ll know what I mean.
I’m not in love with the notion of perpetual daylight saving time. It makes sense only if you think it’s OK to have young children stand by the side of the road in the dark, waiting for the school bus.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but kids wearing reflective clothing tend to look like traffic signs in the dark.
Email Larry Clark at [email protected].