Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winter Flowering: Pink Dawn Viburnum

My three Pink Dawn Viburnums (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Pink Dawn') started to bud on December 24, 2013, but didn't get around to letting a flower peak through until mid-February. 

I figured I'd write a blog about them as soon as I had a range of photos, but what to write? I researched (Googled and went through all my books) trying to find something odd or interesting or, at least, oddly interesting, but no luck. 

  Early to flower, light fragrance, zones 5-7, 8 or 9--depending on the source--nice fall color, cross between V. farreri and V. grandiflorum, etc. Fine, all fine, but why post photos and info when the info was everywhere? This isn't what I wanted my blog to be.

As I was doing the dishes today, I realized what I could say (this sort of thing always seems to happen when I'm washing the dishes or in the shower. Something about water? Difficulty in holding a pen and dousing a notepad suggests inspiration?) And what I could say is the following:

I love to walk into mature gardens filled with open flowers. All those shapes and all that color is just one enormous, loud "Hi there!" All those "faces" are like friends of-the-moment, made at an especially fun party. The kind of effortless, immediate camaraderie that feels like an unexpected gift.
Yeah.  Well.  I love those moments, I do.  But there's something in me--as mostly a Macro photographer--that needs to plan, work ( and suffer ) for longer, perhaps deeper relationships.  I like to take time, get as close as possible to individual plants, destroy my knees, and photograph that conversation.

 So these photos, taken from early bud to last sagging flowers, reflect my relationship with my Pink Dawns over these last few months. 

The buds, with all their fuzzy bits and pink bits and green bits, intrigued and excited me at first.  It was hard to tell what would unfold where.  But the weeks went on and on and my impatience and frustration grew.  Would they never open?  Would they just dry up and just fall off in the cold?

Then one morning in February when I walked out into the garden for a bud-check, the fuzzy bits had peeled back and the pink bits had pushed out and open.  Just a few, but enough to give me hope (and a few shots).

However, not longer after, we got slammed by 18 inches of snow (see my March 3rd post for what that looked like).  I couldn't even locate the plants much less the fragile blooms.

But when the snow finally melted and the sun came back, the flowers quickly multiplied, with the wind rarely letting them hold still long enough for decent shots! 


When the little trumpet blooms were so much paler than the buds it all seemed pointless, until they multiplied and scented the air (if you stuck your nose right into them--easy enough to do when you're on your knees, inches from them). And lastly--at this point--all the buds opened to a sigh and a sag. All that effort. Surely it was worth it.
But don't get me wrong. In the right mood, I can definitely enjoy a big, crazy party with lots of superficial relationships!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Snow Days

Eighteen inches.  It snowed eighteen inches in one day.  Now some of you are rolling your eyes and laughing at this.  Some of you see eighteen inches of snow in two hours.  Some of you only see snow when you watch the Winter Olympics (and why are YOU watching winter sports you’d never participate in since you are without anything deserving the name "winter"?  Yes, this former Californian has become a winter-snob).  However, SOME of us aren’t used to eighteen inches of snow in one day.

Nor are we accustomed to having the ground so saturated and the temperature so consistently below freezing that our gardens are hidden from view, and our snow-heavy trees are bent so far over they look ironically like arbors at Santa’s Village.

 I turn around just in time to see the Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars menace our house with their white bulk.  They fill the air with groans and sudden cracks as another limb breaks from the trunk and crashes to the ground.

But when it just barely started to warm up, when the sun burned through the iron-grey skies for just a few hours, something lovely happened.  First, a few large mounds of snow slid off a branch of one of our towering trees and crashed to the ground with sparks of snow-bits leaping into the air.  Then another.  And then another.  They had held on through the snow-weight and cold.  Now, the newly released branches sprang back up into place, animating the frozen forest. So magical.  Then so many that it seemed like arboreal slapstick.  Alas, no photos.  Too busy watching and laughing.

 Then the ice in the pond began to break up and recede, and a few ducks attempted a swim.  Soon, I think, it might be spring.