Finding Spring

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The varieties of flowering trees and bushes found in cities, public gardens, and
cemeteries are chosen to provide color from early April through October.
designers often pick species that show bright color before our native trees
have woken up. While you’re waiting for
the maples to flower, enjoy this landscaped diversity. Early species include Star-
and Saucer magnolia, Japanese cherry, Forsythia, and Azalea. A few weeks later
you’ll see ornamental pear, crabapple and honeysuckle. You’ll also see crocus,
snowdrops, and daffodils brightening the ground long before the trees leaf out.

Some public gardens publish bloom
schedules of normal years.Others have
public events such as lilac walks, guided tours, or birdwatching.
Read their course schedules carefully for expected bloom times. A garden club’s
azalea festival tells you when to expect azaleas. Of course, the flowers don’t
always cooperate. Last year’s warm winter brought out the flowers almost three
weeks earlier than usual. This year has been normal in southern New England,
but our friends in Vermont are still shoveling. When the bloom of the earliest
species is delayed, they will often flower together with a later wave of color,
making a gorgeous, but brief, display of garden color.

Also, don’t forget the
cemeteries. At the end of the 1800s, it became fashionable to design garden
cemeteries, park-like settings that are landscaped with flowering trees,
perennial bulbs, ponds, and rural surroundings. Some, like Boston’s Forest
Hills, are famous. Others are known for certain activities such as
bird-watching or gravestone-rubbing or touring their exquisite monuments. If
you’re working on your family’s genealogy, April is a beautiful time to do some
on-site research. Think about the large cemeteries in your area and visit on a
warm spring day.

Here are some examples of gardens all over New England:

Public Gardens: Notable sites include
the Boston Public Garden and the Charles River Esplanade; Hartford’s Elizabeth
Garden; the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay, ME; Rhode Island’s
Roger Williams Park & Zoo in Providence and Wilcox Park in Westerly.

Arboretums: Many state
universities have arboretums. In addition to colleges, visit the Arnold
Arboretum in Boston, MA; BlithewoldGardens and
Arboretum in Bristol, RI; the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, CT; and the Pine
Tree State Arboretum in Augusta, ME.

Government buildings: The Connecticut state house and Bushnell Park
in Hartford, CT, and the Maine state house and governor’s residence have
elaborate gardens open to the public.

Historical homes: Old homes of full-time residents such as the Hildene Estate in Manchester, VT; the Black House in
Ellsworth, ME; and The Fells in Newbury, NH have springtime blossoms . However,
the historical mansions in Newport, RI are not planted for spring bloom because
their owners visited only in the summer season.

Garden cemeteries: The first
garden cemetery in the US was Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA; Swan
Point Cemetery
in Providence
is one of the best birdingspots in Rhode
Island; Laurel Hill in Saco, ME has an amazing display of daffodils; Mount
Pleasant Cemetery in Taunton, MA is on the National Register of Historic Places;
Lakeview Cemetery in Burlington, VT has Victorian architecture; and the Hope
Cemetery in Barre, VT, is famous for its beautifully
crafted granite monuments, 70% of which may have been created by the people
they commemorated.

Shopping centers, garden centers and retailer displays: a local
garden center or your nearest hardware superstore will have cherry trees in
bloom. While you’re out, check out the median strips and parking lots in
shopping centers for rows of ornamental crabapples or pear trees. And look for
the projects planted by garden clubs, which exist in smaller cities such as Houlton,
Caribou, and Presque Isle, Maine.

Saucer Magnolia

Glory of the Snow

Japanese Cherry

Elizabeth Magnolia

These photos were taken at a
historical house, a public park, an arboretum, and a Home Depot. Can you guess
which is which?


All photos © Susan Cole Kelly.

Susan Cole Kelly is a compulsive shutterbug based in Boston and downeast Maine. You can see more of her work at http://susancolekelly.photoshelter.com/


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