Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, July 08, 2011

Spring snow


When you live far from the region where you were raised, you miss certain things. Sometimes it's food: okra, lady peas, black eyes, crowders, the kind of fragrant peaches and other fruits that don't transport well. Sometimes it's the sounds of accents, sweeter voices or even strange mountain voices that have a lot of hush puppie in them. Sometimes it's a certain kind of courtesy, a flower leftover from another age, faded but still able to make life more beautiful. Sometimes it's plain old (but not plain) flowers: stands of man-high cardinal flowers, crepe myrtles, orchids and ladies hatpins in ditches, redbud, and dogwood.

When I came back from Wales, the dogwoods were in bloom and having their best spring in years. Here's some glimpses of mountain-top Cullowhee in bloom...









14 comments:

  1. These are so beautiful Marly. Saw some the other week-end in Yorkshire I think - is Dogwood the same as Cornus? The flowers remind me of hydrageas.

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  2. Yes, that is the genus. The southeastern U. S. has lots of native species.

    I just looked up the name, and Wiki says:

    The name "dog-tree" entered the English vocabulary by 1548, and had been further transformed to "dogwood" by 1614. Once the name dogwood was affixed to this kind of tree, it soon acquired a secondary name as the Hound's Tree, while the fruits came to be known as dogberries or houndberries (the latter a name also for the berries of black nightshade, alluding to Hecate's hounds). Another theory advances the view that "dogwood" was derived from the Old English dagwood, from the use of the slender stems of its very hard wood for making 'dags' (daggers, skewers, and arrows).[2][3]

    Another, earlier name of the dogwood in English is the whipple-tree. Geoffrey Chaucer uses "whippletree" in The Canterbury Tales ("The Knight's Tale", verse 2065) to refer to the dogwood. A whippletree is an element of the traction of a horse-drawn cart, linking the drawpole of the cart to the harnesses of the horses in file; these items still bear the name of the tree from which they are commonly carved.

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  3. Gorgeous! British Columbia's provincial flower is the dogwood. I love the contrast of the native dogwoods against the dark conifers in the woods. A lot of gardens here have many nursery varieties, also in pinks.

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  4. Lovely, Marly.

    fyi: this one is Cornus kousa. They flourished wonderfully--as many woodies have--with the copious snow and rainfall of the last 2 years.

    Our native dogwood is Cornus florida(florida=flowering).

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  5. zephyr,

    I thought it was Cornus kousa but then remembered my mother had dug up the tree, so I thought I must be wrong. But now I remember that we had a ring of five Cornus kousa at the prior house, and I believe she must have had the nursery transplant one...

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  6. marja-leena,

    Yes, I like that too--the white against the firs. And in sparse years the flowers look ethereal and floating the way.

    Pink has become rather popular for yards and gardens here as well, but I love seeing them on the mountains, wild and sometimes scraggly.

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  7. those blossoms are stunning, so beautiful!

    It's also true that when you have lived far from home, then when you come back home, you miss things from the other place you lived. (I spent two years in Malawi)

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  8. I'm afraid that I am quite capable of missing strange and wonderful fruits that I ate in Thailand and Cambodia, and that was only two weeks! We are nostalgic, we humans.

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  9. They are incredibly lovely. No wonder they have made an impression on you! I wasn't even there, and they also impress me with longing. Of course, I remember the trees and honeysuckle at Hollins in the spring and summer, and that's part of what these pictures trigger in me.
    I think some of your pictures didn't post though. There are blank spaces there.

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  10. Robbi,

    I checked it on two computers--works here. But it is a little more demanding that the usual because I made some of them a bit larger. Maybe those are the ones that aren't showing for you...

    All summer and fall the dogberries will be falling. They are a beautiful red, and when stepped-on, produce an orange sap. Mess!

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  11. It is the big pics that didn't show on my computer.
    Some of the prettiest trees are also the messiest. I remember when I was little, there was the most beautiful mimosa tree growing outside my best friend's house. Her parents used to complain that it was terribly messy, but I loved those sweet smelling fireworks, the pink asterisks that grew on that tree.

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  12. Just had a conversation on fb about whether mimosas are trash trees or not. They are not strong, and they are messy, but children always love them. Lovely pink puffs tipped with gold...

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  13. We have an old dogwood tree in our garden that is now held up by gnarled wisteria and a grape vine. It was the only way to keep this tree going! But flower it does, every year : )
    In the front, Lynn planted the kind that has dogberries, and local children LOVE to squash those things!
    I like the mess : )

    These are very nice photos, Marly!
    (Man.... I do miss the English countryside!)

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  14. Hey there, Mr. Tree--

    I can imagine children having wild interplanetary battles, flinging dogberries about the yard (of course, now you have runaway concrete mixers for alien tanks!) And stomping dogberries must be satisfying for little people.

    Maybe I need a wisteria crutch for my big birch growing out of a high apple stump. The stump is starting to decay and the tree to lean. Toward the house, of course!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.