Fragments of last year’s Clematis vine still cling to the post.
But the Hellebores are up.
The first fiddleheads, hidden inside a warm, protective covering, have broken through the ground.
Early daffodils shout at the sky,
or nod gracefully.
The strangely named Edgeworthia chrysantha pops its yellow globes on leafless twigs,
and Spring zephyrs rustle the bamboo into a tizzy.
Photographs taken on 3/5/13, at Bellevue Botanic Garden, Bellevue, Washington.
For the botany nerds or otherwise curious, Edgeworthia was named after a Brit named Edgeworth (too predictable an explanation, right?). He’s described as an amateur botanist, and he lived when England’s wide rule brought ample opportunities for any subject inclined towards plant exploration, as long as they had the means. As an administrator stationed in Punjab, I guess he did. An internet search reveals that his diaries are in an Oxford library; four accomplished botanical drawings of his reside at the Missouri Botanical Garden in the U.S. If I could access the diaries, I’d happily while away a few hours leafing through them.
Commonly called Chinese Paper Bush, Edgeworthia is native to China and the the Himalayas; the bark was used for paper. It grows comfortably in much of the US, opening fragrant blooms in late winter or early spring.
I first came to know it from a specimen at the Snug Harbor Botanical Garden in Staten Island, a borough of New York City. I was struck by its peculiar form – it tends to grow into a spherical shape, and with its stick-like branches with round, dotty buds-turning-to-flowers, it looked comical to me. Not a graceful plant, but its oddness draws one in. To a plant grazer like myself, that’s fine – I’m equally drawn by the odd, the graceful, the big, the small, the plain and the fanciful. Bring them all on!