Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why the Redbud is My Favorite Tree

The outstanding redbuds have opened! Like everything else in Central New York, these trees are three or possibly four weeks ahead of schedule! The deliciously aromatic lilacs are already starting to open and the fullness of the crab trees are just beginning their vibrant display of multi-colored pinks. The delightful dogwoods are just emerging, some deep purple magnolias are in full blossom, and the soft fragrance of the apple blossoms is in the air. This spring is early and this spring is suddenly gorgeous! Love is in the air.

Give me but one tree, shrub or flower that I would especially want in a newly planted garden, it would be a redbud. I don't know why it is called "red" bud for the blossoms are hardly red at all. But then again, would you call it "purplebud" or "pinkbud"? What is that color anyhow?

The crab trees can be stunning, but all of them have leaves that compete with their flowers. Cherries, pears, hawthorn, and linden trees can arrest us with their beauty, but all have that same competing leaf problem. Forsythia open with very little leaf showing, but please pardon my bias, they're yellow. Only the dogwood and the redbud in this portion of the world are created by God's design to be lovely and leafless for the first week or two. And of the few dogwoods that we have because of our winter extremes, most are white and not pink.

While the redbud is by far my favorite tree, transplanting them is not high on my list. I learned my lesson many years ago when a nurseryman offered me two free redbuds if I wanted to dig them. I cut my landscaping teeth on them! Back in the years when I thought I knew how to play tennis, I talked my regular tennis opponent into tackling them: one for his house and one for mine. It took us five hours to dig those tangled roots out of the rich nursery loam! About four hours into the effort, the nurseryman wandered over, "How you boys doing?" I don't know how he asked that with a straight face.

My advice on planting redbuds? Buy potted plants from a reputable nursery and then select a location with plenty of space so that you will never be tempted to move them again.

In the photo above from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden, you can possibly detect a small shrub with white flowers to the right of the redbud. These are fragrant viburnums and we have three planted three. On a day with a gentle westerly breeze, the most sweet-smelling aroma fills the parking lot of our church, beckoning everyone to come visit. If you are tempted to plant a redbud, I highly recommend this combination.

End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.