This morning I spent two precious hours as a machete-wielding rock climber cutting back vines and brambles. This is not an unusual occupation when you live in a woodland, but today I was there for one reason and one reason only: to free from suffocation the immature redbuds that have seeded themselves along the lane that borders our property.
No other besieged sapling received similar treatment. The poplars, sycamores, and locusts were ignored in my quest to showcase this bright star of our native flora, and once done, I headed over to a garden bed to transplant three of last year’s seedlings to better homes.
Garden writers are perhaps too guilty of the sin of hyperbole when trying light fires under the bottoms of a lethargic audience, and I am no exception; but when it comes to Cercis canadensis, and that certain time of year that they begin to color, such words are merely understatement upon understatement. It is the wildness of the thing that thrills me.
Never was a flower more inappropriately named. There is simply nothing red about it. Blossoms are a deep purple pink – almost unnatural next to the shell pink of black cherry which bloom in woodlands at the same time. Blossoms not only sprout from branches, but often from the trunk as well. As they age, the bark can darken to a greyish-black, creating a strong visual statement.