Tag Archives: fothergilla gardenii

The Darling Buds of May

May 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;


Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
                       — William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 provided the title for H.E. Bates’ novel. I never read The Darling Buds of May. Never saw the British tv show, either. But I’ve seen the buds themselves.

Rough winds may be shaking them. but they are blooming gloriously now at Glen Villa nonetheless.

Dandelions on the big lawn at Glen Villa

So what if the darling buds are dandelions? Who cares? Their yellow and green carpet
is splendid. Yes, some call them weeds. Certainly my mother did. She spent hours digging them out of the grass. But I ask you, what is a weed anyway? Just a plant that is growing where someone doesn’t want it to grow. I’m happy to have this flower blooming in the grass.

If I call my dandelions wildflowers, will others admire them, too?

There’s no question about the carpet of trout lilies (erythronium americanum) I saw a week or so ago in Montreal. Everyone admires them.

Trout lilies cover the ground at Summit Park, Montreal

It’s hard to show how large an area they cover. At Glen Villa they bloom individually, scattered here and there in the woods, but on the mountain in Montreal, they cover a lot of ground.

A small patch of trout lilies blooming madly at Summit Park

A close up explains why they are called trout lilies. Supposedly the spots on the leaves resemble the spots on the side of a brook trout. I’m no fisherman (no fisherwoman, either) so I can’t say whether they actually do. But brook trout or no, the cheerful face of the flower lifts the spirits.

Erythronium americanum

Warm weather came very quickly this year. (And left just as quickly. This morning the temperature was a chilly 2C.)  Normally, the view from my apartment window in Montreal changes slowly and I watch as Mount Royal turns colour gradually, from brown to pale yellow-green to a green haze that shouts out spring. The maple leaves emerged so quickly this spring that I missed that transformation. Instead I noticed this view of just-emerging leaves, actual and reflected.

Maples trees blooming in Montreal

I also noticed the buds on the many red maple trees that grow here. The buds are fuzzy when they first appear. Close-up, they look to me like a way-past-time-to-shave beard. Or maybe a fake beard on an imitation Santa Claus.

Buds on a red maple: time for shave?

Glen Villa is slightly colder than Montreal, so here the trees are still budding out. Wild cherry trees colour the sky alongside the road leading to our village of North Hatley,

Wild cherry is blooming at the edge of the road at Glen Villa

In the lower garden, this crabapple is about to pop. It’s a columnar form that fits well into small spaces and provides an upright line, if that’s what you are looking for. We planted this one a few years ago but so far it hasn’t bloomed well. This year I think it will.

Malus baccata ‘Columnaris’ is about to bloom.

There may be something special this year. The magnolia trees are better than ever before, and this seems to be the case for those I’ve seen in Montreal as well. Were the winter conditions ideal? Who knows.  Enjoying the magnolia trees while they bloom is what matters to me.

Magnolia in the lower garden at Glen Villa.
That’s our house in the background.

We have two varieties, ‘Leonard Messel’ and ‘Susan’. The pale pink above is magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel.’ I love it. It reminds me of the tree that grew outside my bedroom window in Richmond, Virginia, where I grew up. Looking out on that tree (I think it was a cherry but I’m not sure), I felt like I was floating on a pink cloud. Now, when ‘Leonard Messel’ blooms, I sit under the branches and feel the same way. Like a child again.

Rain finished this year’s pink cloud, but magnolia ‘Susan’ is just coming into her own. The contrast of these dark pink blooms against the dark evergreen gives me goose pimples. The good kind.

Magnolia ‘Susan’ in the lower garden at Glen Villa

Spring is such a short season in Quebec, not at all like the lingering Virginia springs I grew up with. So I savour every moment of it. I watch every bud grow, and check their progress daily.  Like this bud below. It’s the bud of a fothergilla, a shrub that I was certain would not survive our winters. But it has now gone through two seasons and looks like it will happily continue.

buds on a fothergilla gardenii

I haven’t mentioned my favourite plant, the one in my garden that I love more than any other. I’ll save it for another time, another post. But I’ll give you a hint about what it is. It’s a spring ephemeral, named after another Virginian. I showed a photo of it in my last blog.  Can you name it?