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Saugus Gardens in the Spring

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Here’s what’s blooming in town this week to make your walks more enjoyable


By Laura Eisener


Spring is moving ahead despite the changing weather patterns. In contrast to last spring, when there were few blossoms on the forsythia and many other spring bloomers because one cold day, February 4, destroyed the flower buds, we have many blossoms opening on shrubs in every neighborhood this year. The slopes around the Lynn Fells Parkway overpass are golden with forsythia blossoms, and many hedges are covered in the four-petalled flowers. It is almost as though they were determined to make up for last spring. There are yellow daffodils going strong in many gardens around town as well, and another abundant yellow flower, the dandelion, has its own day today.

Among the first flowers of spring, dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) have been in bloom in some warm spots since before St. Patrick’s Day, especially near paved areas and brick or stone foundations that retain the sun’s warmth. For much of the 20th century, they were primarily considered weeds, but in previous centuries they were valued for their edible qualities and medicinal value. Native to Eurasia, they were brought by European people to other continents. Dandelions were able to thrive in dry and disturbed soils due to their long taproot that went deep into the soil. For many people, dandelions have become symbolic of resilience. There is also a longstanding tradition that blowing their lightweight seeds will cause your wishes to be granted. Like other members of the aster family (Asteraceae), what people often think of as a single flower is actually a compound flower head.

Pussy willows (Salix discolor) have also been flowering a few weeks in some spots, including near the Saugus River at the Iron Works. There are plants in bloom down near the blacksmith shop and nature trail on the lower section of the park, and a very tall shrub, nearly a tree size, on the slope leading downhill from the higher level not far from the parking lot. Elsewhere in town this native plant and its very similar French pussy willow (Salix caprea), also known as goat willow, has been planted in many gardens. The fuzzy gray catkins are always among the earliest shrubs to bloom, and they are well loved for their soft gray flowers. Our native species has also been valued for preventing erosion on steep banks, and it is known for being able to propagate itself from rooting cut stems in the soil.

Pots of daffodils (Narcissus spp.), tulips (Tulipa spp.), oriental hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientale) and sometimes other bulbs decorated many festive tables and Easter baskets last Sunday, and the steps of several churches on that day. Sunrise services had the benefit of a variety of bird songs. The male goldfinches (Spinus tristis) have almost completely developed their golden plumage at this point, even though some of the windy days we have had before and after Easter tended to ruffle their feathers as well as those of other songbirds. At night we are also beginning to hear the chorus of frogs, such as spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), from the vernal pools.

Hurry over to the Saugus Public Library today and tomorrow, since it will be “the place to be” to view a creative use of flowers. “Books in Bloom” will be held both days with floral displays throughout the building, paired with the books that inspired them. This annual event is always eagerly anticipated by those who create the flower arrangements and those who stop by to admire them and, perhaps, to get ideas on what to read next.

Monday’s solar eclipse will be an unusual natural event that many people are planning to see. A total eclipse can be seen somewhat north and west of us, so some observers are heading out of town, but here we will see about 90%. In Saugus the event begins a little after 2 p.m. and ends after 4 p.m., with the maximum eclipse moment here at about 3:30 p.m.

  Editor’s Note: Laura Eisener is a landscape design consultant who helps homeowners with landscape design, plant selection and placement of trees and shrubs, as well as perennials. She is a member of the Saugus Garden Club and offered to write a series of articles about “what’s blooming in town” shortly after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was inspired after seeing so many people taking up walking.

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