Star Magnolia

The return of spring bring flowering trees and bulbs to rejuvenate the human spirit. The bluebirds are nesting in my yard, but too fast and cautious for me to capture with the camera. I love this time of year, even though it brings the return of weeds and some plant diseases year after year.

A favorite flowering tree of mine are magnolias. The star magnolia flower is pictured above and the tree below.M. stellata was introduced to the United States in the 1860’s originated from Japan.

Star Magnolia Tree.

The saucer magnolia, Magnolia × soulangiana, is a hybrid cross between M. denudata and M. liliflora developed in France in 1826.

Flowering Quince

This is a close up the beautiful blossoms of a flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ and tends to only look good while flowering. It is a messy shrub, gangly and awkward looking the rest of the year. I find it also sends up shoots a few feet away from the plant needing removal attention unless you want a loose, erratic hedge.This native to Asia.

The peonies are about a foot tall already with tiny buds atop insuring June flowers will be here. The red tinged foliage produces dark red flowers in my garden. The green leafed one is a light pink variety. I do not know the names as these were shared from my aunt’s garden. Peonies can live for decades in the same spot! Peonies are native to China.

Grape hyacinths, (Muscari armeniacum,) are delightful little spires of blue bells emanating from a bulb below ground. They certainly brighten up the landscape, but can become a nuisance if allowed to go to seed and spread. I have them popping up in the lawn and garden where they did not start out. Their native range is western Asia and southeastern Europe. Best to plant in the fall at same time as daffodils and tulips.


Bluets, (Houstonia), is a native wildflower often found in wetter areas of lawns and around streams and ponds. These were battling for space in the lawn untreated with herbicides. They appear around the same time as the pollywogs in the nearby stream. Both wonderful signs of spring.

In the vegetable garden the kale made it through the winter and is growing well. Spring greens for supper!

Kale overwintered on its own.

The asparagus is coming up, although this spear is curled indicating asparagus beetles fed on the developing stalk under ground. Thankfully others were fine. Be on the look out for striped and spotted asparagus beetles on the stalks.

Curled asparagus stalk from beetle feeding.

Along with the good comes some bad: weeds. Hairy bittercress had a great year this spring. It is a cool weather annual that will die out with heat. The elongated seed pods shoot its seeds out to make new plants next year. Hand pull or mow if in the lawn.

Today’s rain spurred cedar apple rust galls to awaken and grow. They look like an orange jelly ball with tentacles. They will dry and release spores that will float on the wind to infect new apple tree leaves with cedar apple rust spots. Those apple leaves will yellow and drop leaving a bare tree. If you can reach the orange galls at this stage, cut them off and put them in the garbage to interrupt the lifecycle of this two host disease.

Spring often bring good winds. Great for wind power and kite flying!


-Carol Quish