Spring is a breathless rush of a season, but it seems to take me longer to get anything done in spring. Just walking to my car takes a few extra minutes, while I greet every new daffodil in the garden and admire the morning's fresh magnolia blossoms. When I walk to the store I wander out of my way to check on the progress of the season in the neighborhood. On a drive across town I admit I'm distracted: I have to check on all my favorite flowering trees and shrubs.
It's time to plant. Native fringetree (Chioanthus virginicus), see above, with its lovely tassel of white flowers, is one of my favorite flowering trees. It's often sold as a shrub in the Midwest but it is, in fact, a handsome small tree. I'm partial to natives so naturally I love flowering dogwood, too, and a spectacular pink dogwood only a few blocks away is well worth a detour in mid-April. These trees are both on the Plants of Merit list of recommended plants for our region.
The Plants of Merit list includes natives and nonnatives, and I don't mind mixing things up a little in my own garden. Just outside the back door I have a tall beauty bush (Kolkwitzia), native to China, hardy to zone 4, and planted in my garden about 15 years ago. It is a large shrub now, close to 15 feet tall, and it is covered with soft-pink flowers in spring. When it is in bloom, I find Paul Simon's lyrics in "The 59th Street Bridge Song" running through my mind: "Slow down, you move too fast/You got to make the morning last." It's spring: savor it.
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