Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buds Are Swelling, Juices Are Flowing

While I was pruning the roses yesterday, it suddenly struck me: spring is coming. For one thing, these darling little miniature narcissus (whose name, shamefully, I do not remember) are in bloom.

Pretty miniature Narcissus by the front porch

They're so pretty, I think they deserve two pictures.

Closeup of pretty miniature Narcissus by the front porch

They're planted in front of the front porch, in one big bunch. I need to figure out what the heck they are so I can buy some more to sprinkle around the rest of the yard.

We've also got a black plastic pot with a few straggly hyacinths, of which the one below is much the best.

Mystery hyacinth

We have no idea where these came from--I don't usually buy hyacinths precisely because they can be a bit whiny down here. This one certainly turned out a lovely, vibrant pink, though didn't it?

Our 'Fruit Cocktail' shrimp plants (Justicia brandegeana) are coming back in the front bed, much to my delight. I love 'FC' partly because it's just sprightly and plucky and a very nice pairing of colors, but also because it's a lot like our house overall. Shrimp plants are a very old, traditional southern plant, but this particular version, with its apple-green-and-cherry-red flowers, has a very current, even urban flavor to it. Much like our house, which is very old, but has bamboo floors and a brand-new chandelier and dinky-but-modern furniture from Target.

Shrimp plant sprouts

And on the east side of the house, the shrimp plants actually never went out of bloom, despite the 20 or so freezes we had this year. (They're right by the dryer vent.) They look like hell, mind you, but you have to admire their determination, all the same.

Shrimp plants by the dryer vent

...And of course 'Knockout' is our first rose to bud up this spring. It would be--shameless, flaunting tart. It's also hosting a couple of ladybugs--one red and one orange. (Click to enlarge, if you feel like playing Where's Waldo with the ladybugs)

Stupid 'Knockout' with its stupid flower buds

There are also some subtler signs of spring--the buds on our trees are starting to swell. The most, ah, turgid, are the pear buds on our 'Moonglow' Bartlett pear. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the camera to focus on the silly thing, so you'll have to imagine it. It looks a lot like a baby Bradford pear, actually, so look in any neighborhood built in the last 20 years and you should see all the pear buds you can desire.

To make up for it, though, I've got pictures of most of our oak buds below. If there are any among you who are bored by pictures of leaf buds (surely not?), this might be a good time to surf on. The rest of you, well, you're true pals.

First of all, we've got red oak (Quercus texana, rubra, or shumardii--we're not sure which, as they're all called "red oak") buds, located near our kitchen patio. Looking nice and fat, aren't they?

The smooth stems and long internodes of our red oak (Quercus something-or-other)

Then we've got white oak (Q. alba) buds from the front of the house. The leaf in the picture is actually a holdover from last year--white oaks would appear to be evergreen or, like live oaks, semi-evergreen.

The pleasingly snubby buds of our white oak (Q. alba)

And finally, the Lacey oaks (Q. laceyi). I was particularly concerned about these, because the leaves at the tips of their branches turned brown and dropped off last summer. So I'm particularly delighted so see them looking hale and lively. Lacey oak buds are more pointed, curved, and scraggy-looking than some other oaks, which I think makes sense as they aren't quite as domesticated as live oaks, pin oaks, and the like. They've got a slightly feral look to them, and if you oppress them with too much cultivation, they'll go off in a sulk and die (or so I'm told). They're in very little danger of dying from too much attention here on Avenue F.

Lacey oak (Q. laceyi) buds


Janice Y. said...

Great photos, Melanie!

I love the garden, it's so nice to read your blog and know that y'all are still plant nerds like me...

It's springtime, I've already started tending my little collection of potted plants. A yard would be so lovely.


Elgin_house said...

Thanks Janice! We've really been enjoying it. Like you, I have years and years of apartment dwelling behind me--trying to grow plants in east-facing window, on dark balconies with deep overhangs, under grow lights... It's rough, unless you're into orchids or African violets. I have about 5 roses that I've grown in pots since I worked at the Antique Rose Emporium senior year of college--12 years ago! It was time to get those poor puppies in the ground!

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