Here’s what’s blooming in town this week to make your walks more enjoyable
Spring is full of wonderful moments which could be missed if you are in too much of a hurry for summer. We are certainly not at a loss for flowers even if we might wish for a few more warm days than we have had so far. The garden is full of other fascinating events, such as the unfolding of leaves. Many of them have additional colors in early spring that will be more subdued by the time the leaves are full size. Unfamiliar trees will have to be examined more closely, since they now have neither the winter bud appearance nor the recognizable shape of the summer leaf. New oak leaves often are bright velvety red or pale gold, and white oak (Quercus alba) sometimes looks white or silvery as the leaf buds open. Fine hairs on the edges of beech, especially European beech (Fagus sylvatica), like the big tree at the Saugus Ironworks, are more noticeable now than they will be later in the season. While the pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) in my garden is not among the best known of dogwoods, this native species has some very interesting leaves and soon will have interesting flowers, too.
One rainy day recently, I suddenly smelled a fragrance that took me a moment to place – then I realized it was the scent of a freshly cut lawn along with the scent of rain, a combination we don’t experience for the months of winter. This week we are starting to get another scent that is a favorite of many people – the fragrance of lilacs (Syringa vulgaris).
One unusually relaxing warm and sunny morning last week, my husband and I shared coffee outdoors watching petals fall from the crabapples along the hillside path of the Ironworks. There was a light breeze, and some blossoms were fading while other buds were still in the process of opening. We enjoyed the musical accompaniment, too – the songs of birds in the spring, and the sight of them collecting twigs for their nests, are special joys of the spring garden. Some of these birds are just returning from spending winter in milder climates, like the hummingbirds, while others, like the goldfinches, have remained for the winter.
On Mother’s Day after watching the concert at the Ironworks with a friend, I watched a mother goose lead her six fluffy yellow goslings along the Saugus River at low tide, the first time I had seen the babies this year. It may seem hard to imagine now, with fairly large Canada goose populations in many urban areas, that in the 1950’s their population had declined to the extent that extinction seemed likely. I can remember my late grandfather bemoaning the absence of flying geese in the spring and fall skies – he would be delighted by their comeback today.
Even something as familiar as a tulip can have details worth savoring – many tulips have hidden patterns at the base of their sepals and petals that form an interesting design when you look down into the flower. Other tulips may have multiple petals, or have fringed edges, more than one color, double petals or other unusual features.
I know I planted quite a few bulbs in my garden last fall, and I have been enjoying the anticipation of watching most of them come up and bloom. I am sure I didn’t plant any in the lawn just a few inches from the pavement of Fairmount Avenue! Nevertheless, a few weeks ago I noticed that a tulip was definitely coming up there, and this week it bloomed. The flower is red with yellow fringes. I suspect whoever planted it has a gray bushy tail, since squirrels are known to have a taste for tulips, and they may have relocated them for use during the winter, only to forget where they put some of them. While this might not be the location I would have chosen, the tulip is living by the popular motto “Bloom Where You’re Planted!” and making the most of the situation.
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.