“Heralds of Spring”



Spirea and the reds of the quince are breathtaking. Ah, springtime!

Ah, springtime! Early blooming plants are heralding its soon arrival. I’m not for sure that we have had our last frost, but the warm days of spring are surely ahead. They say only fools predict Texas weather, but you know gardeners are hopeful people and a bit impatient; so, when spirea begins to bloom, we gardeners  are filled with anticipation.
Someone once wrote that one of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. This anticipation is most fierce in the spring. We await the spring bloom of our gardens with an almost frantic and frenzied enthusiasm.

Now only a few things are blooming in our garden, but they merely sharpen and wet our ravenous, gardening appetite. Some of the early spirea are soon to be in bloom. They are “Heralds of Spring”. There is a whole group of early blooming spirea that are reliable garden plants and should not be overlooked when we visit the nursery. The sweetest of the early bloomers is the Baby’s Breath spirea (Spireaea thunbergii). It blooms very early in the spring, covers itself with lime green foliage and the most delicate, tiny, white flowers.

A Southern classic is the Van Houtte spirea which has graceful, arching, fountain-like branches that reach to a height of six feet and blooms in mid to late spring.  The Reeve’s spirea blooms after the early-blooming Baby’s Breath as well and is sometimes called Double Bridal Wreath spirea.  These spirea have long graced the landscapes of the American South with their early spring bloom. Their very names “Baby’s” and “Brides” bring up mental pictures of future hopes.

There are other spirea as well, including the late spring and early summer blooming spirea called Anthony Waterer which produces delightful clouds of rosy pink blooms. This colorful shrub will continue to color your garden when the azaleas have finished their season.
Some people prune their spirea back severely, keeping them relatively compact and dwarf. Others let them go, where they become mounding with graceful, ascending branches. Both methods are workable. What you do will depend on your space limitations.

Baby’s Breath spirea make a dramatic show when planted with flowering quince. When they bloom together, the white of the spirea and the reds of the quince are breathtaking. As the early blooming spirea call me out into the garden, the urge to be digging and planting is virtually irresistible. “Each spring… a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in trees stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground, “ wrote Lewis Gannett in his book “Crown Hill”.  I have visited a number of nurseries this spring, both wholesale and retail. They are all anticipating our mad rush to dig, plant, fertilize, spray, trim, and mow as we “tame” another bit of ground. These past winter months have only intensified the human instinct and desire to garden.

Yes, the sap is rising. People, who otherwise hate mowing the lawn, do it with satisfaction and delight in the spring.   We get our hands dirty, plant, and dig with a primordial zeal.   Ah, springtime! The bloom of spiraea herald its soon coming.

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