You know spring has sprung when you see flower buds on early-season trees like eastern redbud, saucer magnolia and dogwood.
With the Easter season around the corner, April 8 this year, spring is waking up earlier than usual. It's like Mother Nature took out her magic wand and waved it overnight.
In my neighborhood, daffodils are blooming and the redbuds are beginning to wake up. I don't have a native redbud but wish I did. Native redbuds, cold hardy in zones 4-9, grow 20-30 feet tall and 25-35 wide. A neighbor of mine has one planted below two taller loblolly pines and the redbud is happy as can be because it prefers being an understory tree.
I have a weeping redbud called Lavender Twist that is smaller and more manageable in a tight space. It's located next to a bluebird feeder filled with freeze-dried worms; the bluebirds sit on the redbud's twisting, turning branches, waiting turns at the feeder.
Eastern redbud, a species native to Virginia and many U.S. States, has been bred and introduced into the garden industry by many brand names, including Forest Pansy and Burgundy Heart with heart-shaped burgundy-green leaves and pink-purple flowers. Its botanical name is Cercis canadensis.
Rising Sun redbud is a new one that wins a 2012 Gold Medal Plant award, http://www.goldmedalplants.org, from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Its small but showy rosy orchid flowers appear above smooth bark; heart-shaped foliage in tangerine to apricot colors appear afterward. Smithfield Gardens in Suffolk has a large one in stock (238-2511).
Don Egolf is a Virginia Beautiful Gardens award winner, nominated as a plant perfect for the state's growing conditions; the plant nomination program is run by Virginia Tech and the landscaping industry, http://www.beautifulgardens.org. You can find Don Egolf, Lavender Twist, Rising Sun, Forest Pansy, Ruby Flls, Hearts of Gold, Oklahoma and Burgundy Heart at Countryside Gardens in Hampton (722-990) or Ken Mathews Garden Center in York County (898-7799).
Redbuds will also be sold at the Virginia Living Museum's plant sale April 21-22 and April 28-29; I'll feature more of the museum's plants in an upcoming column. Also, they are on the inventory for the John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant sale 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 28 at Freedom Park, Centerville Road, in James City County, http://www.claytonvnps.org.
Free seedlings given out at Saturday's "Walk in the Forest" event in New Kent will include native eastern redbud, bald cypress, persimmon, shortleaf pine, flowering dogwood and American plum.
For early risers, the day begins with a guided bird watching trip at 7 a.m. Guided nature hikes begin at 10 a.m., and depart every half hour until 2 p.m. Exhibits, demonstrations, including a tree-planting demo, and crafts for kids run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tree seedling giveaway begins at 10 a.m. Admission and parking are free.
You can bring a picnic lunch and drinks. The programs will be held at the New Kent Forestry located at 11301 Pocahontas Trail, or Route 60, near Providence Forge. Call Lisa Deaton at 804-512-2933 or email email@example.com.
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