Despite the warm weather, it’s gloomy and un-Springlike out my window this morning. Rain is forecast for later and I just hope it holds off until after my kindergartner’s much-anticipated field trip to Ijams Nature Center is complete.
I’m a big fan of four definite seasons, and I love something about all of them, but Spring is my favorite. I was born in April so maybe that’s why. Or maybe it’s because as a child studying intensely for spelling bees I missed most of five Springs. I don’t know. But my heart lifts at the first sight of the crocuses.
I don’t own a digital camera except for the one in my phone. And I could write a post about why I think digital cameras are bad. But this won’t be that post. Because the one thing I love about having a camera phone is that I can take a picture whenever I want or whatever I want without having to worry about wasting film. I can be completely self-indulgent about taking pictures of things like dandelions. I have been, and I am going to share the results below to brighten up this gloomy day.
The daffodils have to come first because they are my favorite flower. I love the color (yellow has always been my favorite!), I love the smell, I love the fact that they herald Spring (they even have trumpets!). These pictures were taken in my front yard. There are a few smaller patches scattered about the woods as well. One of my ambitions in life is to have a whole field of daffodils, which I did start at our first home many years ago, but I am going to wait on any ambitious gardening projects until 1) I have time to have an actual life and 2) Until I am sure I won’t be moving ever again.
These are wild violets (I bet you knew that already.). Why do people call these weeds? I always wait to mow the grass until after the violets because I can’t bear to kill them. I even tried to transplant some into my flowerbed once. They sure are prettier than the African violets that my grandmother was so good at raising. At least I think so.
Here are some more pretty flowers that other people call weeds. I don’t know what you call the first one, but everyone knows dandelions! Besides looking like little spots of sunshine in the grass, their greens can be eaten and their roots made into a medicinal tea. Lorelei brought me a whole vaseful for my desk the other day. It’s funny how what is considered a flower as opposed to a weed is simply subjective. Why do we make it so hard on ourselves trying to plant flowers that are difficult to cultivate while attempting to eradicate the beautiful dandelions (from dent de lion, lion’s tooth), violets, and buttercups that grow effortlessly where God sowed them?
This isn’t a very good picture because the color is washed out but if you remember your Crayola box you’ll know by its name (Periwinkle) what color you should be seeing. The scientific name is Vinca, and it’s a great ground cover for shady spots. I think it also grows wild around here because I see it everywhere.
Here are some from last weekend’s walk on the Sequoyah Hills Greenway. Virginia bluebells (I believe) on the bottom and tulips (of course) on the top. I think tulips are beautiful but I did not plant many when I was actively gardening. Despite the promises in the Breck’s catalogue, they never seem to come back around here, and I’m a lazy gardener who relies on bulbs and perennials with only the occasional pansy or marigold.
Back when I was gardening (when I had three preschoolers and yet was somehow not as busy as I am today) these grape hyacinths (which are naturalized throughout our front yard) were some of my favorites. They are foolproof, they are pretty, they complement the daffodils, and they are inexpensive. We lived on the South Knoxville dogwood trail then, and our driveway was bordered with a low rock wall. I planted bulbs between the rocks and behind them, adding more every year, and it was so pretty. You feel a certain responsibility when you are on a dogwood trail! I had about six or seven different areas in my yard that I cultivated. I planted 27 azalea bushes and about that many rose bushes. Every spring I make it a point to drive by and see how my flowers are doing.
Isn’t that beautiful? It doesn’t exactly fit the theme because those aren’t flowers on the tree, they are seeds–helicopters, to be precise. This tree is in my sister’s front yard. She and I weren’t sure what kind it was but Jake (who is the only one of my kids with any horticultural interest) said it must be a maple because of the seeds.
You can buy redbud trees but you don’t really need to. They grow wild all over in East Tennessee. I don’t know why these harbingers of Spring are called redbuds when the flowers are pinkish-purple, but I’m sure there is a reason. I love these even when they are not blooming because of their distinctive heart-shaped leaves.
Finally, a crabapple, my favorite flowering tree. We had a wonderful one in the front yard of my childhood home on Maywood Road. Not only did it bloom spectacularly, but it was perfect for climbing, it had nice branches that were comfortable for sitting, and there was a hollow in it where you could leave messages. I have an especially clear memory of it being in full beautiful bloom as we came outside one Sunday morning, all dressed up, on our way to church to have my baby sister baptized (which would have been just about exactly this time of year, 34 years ago).
Even though it’s not so pretty outside today, I feel extremely lucky to be an East Tennessean in the Springtime.