I cannot recall a spring when blooms of the native dogwoods have been so magnificent. Perhaps this is because gardeners tend to remember their miseries and failures rather than successes, but in any case, the dogwoods are perfect this April.
Sadly, our native dogwoods is troubled by a variety of pests, so that it is recommended with a note of caution, but there is no more delightful tree in bloom, and autumn foliage color and berries are superb. Dogwoods occasionally suffer from black spot and powdery mildew in an abundantly wet spring, so these maladies are common, though rarely bothersome enough to fool with spraying to prevent. Problems with cankers and borers are not unusual in older trees, and can result in the tree’s demise. But, before I have discouraged you unnecessarily, I must say that I have planted a handful in my garden. None have died, several are twenty years old, and all are glorious.
I feel no need to analyze why the dogwoods are more lovely this year than others. No doubt there is a formula based upon weather conditions in late summer last year when the flower buds were set, and temperatures through the winter that have conspired to create ideal conditions for the blooms, but it is simpler just to enjoy.
Though our April weather has been less than ideal the garden is growing remarkably, and damage from February’s heavy snow is nearly forgotten. So long as I don’t look up at the broken and bent tops of the cryptomerias, that is. It is so much more pleasant to enjoy the serviceberry (white blooms, above), redbuds (above) and Carolina silverbell (below) than to worry about problems that are beyond the gardeners reach. The tops of the cryptomerias must be addressed eventually, but there is no need for that to be immediately.
Today, weeds are growing as quickly as the perennials in the damp soil, and the gardener is sometimes challenged to differentiate the two. As is usual each spring in this garden, there are dozens, possibly hundreds of Japanese maple seedlings popping up (below). I am always curious to see the form and color of their foliage since seedlings are often quite different from the parent tree, but they are becoming too numerous and in the next week or two I must pull them out so they don’t overtake the planting beds. I’ll pot a few up if they are worthy, but there will be more next year, and so the entire batch could end up in the compost pile.
Certainly I have gone on far too long about the flowering trees, but in the next few days I’ll move on to the blooming perennials and Japanese maples, including the three that are newly planted. The foliage of several of the maples has emerged fully, but a few others will take another warm day (Golden Full Moon maple, below).