Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Harbingers of Spring

I'm beginning to see some of my favorite harbingers of Spring -  some (like huisache, citrus, and Texas mountain laurel) are beloved as much for their frangrance as their beauty.

Our huisache trees began flushing new leaves a week or ten days ago.   That usually doesn't happen until AFTER the tree blooms.  I was afraid that our lack of winter was going to cause us to miss those fragrant puff-balls that cover each tree in yellow and gold.   Maybe last weeks deep irrigation spurred the trees to bloom . . . .

Although the blooms are quite pretty, again it is the aroma of citrus blooms that tells south Texans that spring is here.    There are sooooo many blooms that I cut a few small branches to enjoy inside.   They only last a few days but its such a joy to catch a whiff of them.

The grape soda aroma is Texas mountain laurel is my third sign that Spring has sprung!   This usually begins happening around Valentine's Day - but we are still waiting.   We have fields of this tree at the nursery and I have not seen a bloom yet!   Lots of blooms stems but they are waiting.   It is blooming farther north in San Antonio and Austin.   This makes me wonder if this tree requires a chill period like fruit trees do.   What are you observing in your area?

Lantana can be seen blooming both in garden beds and in the brushlines around south Texas.   I am a sucker for white flowers so we chose this trailing white lantana beneath the hummingbird feeders.  Even thought it's a pale flower, quite a few butterflies notice it and land here to feed.

And this little patch of Drummonds Betony's or Pink Mint (Stachys drummondii) has been very appealing to a number of different small butterflies.   Its square stem is characteristic of mints.   It has a tap root and I am hoping that it isn't the aggressive grower that culinary mints are.   This is one of those "weeds" that volunteers around Mockingbird Farm and usually gets pulled out.   This year I decided to give it a look. A few stems cut and put into a beaker passed the test as cut flowers -  the only downside that I noticed is that the leaves have a very faint unpleasant odor.   I don't think it is noticable unless you are working with the plant.   I'll definitely be watching this small (3' x 4') 'planting' of Pink Mint

And we can't talk about spring blossoms without mentioning the blooms of the Spanish Dagger (Yucca trecleana).   Birds love these waxy petals.  I love the pristine whiteness poking out above the sharp blades of the plant.

What is your sign that Spring has indeed arrived?

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