Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring comes to Fern Valley...and the rest of the Arboretum!

It may have been gloomy yesterday in Washington, but nighttime temperatures stayed right around 10C and we got over 1.5cm of rain so spring moves steadily forward. In Fern Valley the ephemerals are up. Look along the road behind the stone swale and under the big beech tree. On Monday there was nothing but a few residual snowdrops that I removed. By Wednesday Virginia bluebells, Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum), and Toothwort, had forced their way out of the soil; by Friday, the Toothwort had visible buds, the Trillium leaves had unfolded to reveal their lovely mottling, the Virginia bluebells had pushed up to almost 10cm, and a Bloodroot had gone from non-existent to a fist sized bundle ready to expand.

The essence of Spring is change and you have to get out there and look or it'll pass you by; because of the incredible taxonomic range of its collections, the National Arboretum might be the best place in the area to watch spring approach. Cherries are beginning to flower, 'Okame' is almost in full bloom. The research collections contain a variety of common and obscure taxa; many are showing color. We have a wide variety of early flowering magnolias and they are beginning to open. Many spring flowers are fragrant; Prunus mume, the flowering apricots are out in their olofactory glory, and the winterhazels are opening and the witchhazels are moving through their season. It goes on and on and its started!

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