Perhaps the very instant spring begins is that brief sunny moment when bare branches burst from bud to flower. Dormant limbs feeling the stir of seasonal change bud and swell with the news that winter is waning. Seemingly overnight the bleak branch canopy suddenly commands our attention as we notice the burst of flowers filling a tree. Flowers before leaves, before fruit and seed pods simply fascinate a gardener, who willingly rakes and sweeps the debris that follows the spectacular show of flowering trees.
Traveling allows one to find signs of spring over a period of months. In the Southwest gardens the Flowering Pear is usually our first burst of spring bloom. In the following weeks Orchid, Mimosa, Jacaranda, Purple Leaf Plum and Palo Verde put on their show.
I love walking in the neighborhood as the blossoms fall in Spring. The petals make patchwork carpets over asphalt in purple, yellow and white.
From east coast to west the trees announce the season. A gray sky is punctuated with color as the flowers cover once bare branches. You need only to look out and up to be rewarded with this incredible show.
The old stone Parrish church in Dover, England is near the city center, across the street from the Eight Bells pub. Behind the church is a small cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 1800’s. In 1979 a cherry tree was planted to commemorate the installation of the queen mother as warden of the Cinque (local) ports. There on a blustery day, with the temperature in the high 40‘s and the sun ducking in and out behind the clouds, we were drawn to the flowering cherry tree in full bloom. Its’ canopy spread across the lawn, the red papery bark contrasted sharply with the delicate white flowers. The blustery wind had blown many blossoms onto the ground as if it were snow. (It certainly felt cold enough to be snow).
Local residents directed us to this tree, the flowers excited their hope for warmer weather. There was little else in bloom in late April and the cold winter was lingering too long. Flowering trees flirt with us, promising spring.Yet their arrival is part of the seasonal change when weather can turn cold again. When a heavy cold rain strips the flowers away it dampens our spirits as the petals fall.
Cherry, apple, almond, peach and pear, the list of flowering trees is long. Not all produce fruit or food but the deciduous variety provide the spring rush of full bloom. Many other trees flower such as fragrant citrus blooms but they are different as they bloom among the leaves.
Trees do so much for us, they clean our air and water, grow food for people and animals. The leaves give us shade. The seasonal flowering is a part of the important work of trees but it is a bonus of such beauty for all of us to enjoy. Flowering branches are perhaps nature’s best example of how one’s daily work done with great care simply makes the world a more beautiful place. We must do our raking and sweeping after the flowers. The reward is the bright promise of leaf and fruit and a memory of that brief sunny moment.