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Rhododendron flower buds

Do you pay attention to the transitions in your garden, or in the natural landscape around you? I mean, really looking closely? It’s one of the things I’ve paid more attention to this spring while we’ve been staying at home.

Every plant goes through cycles. Buds swell and open into flowers or leaves in the spring, each on its own timetable. Some, like the white-flowered native osoberry, begin blooming in March. The rhododendron in the photo above is just beginning to open now. Brian and I were struck by how wrinkled the bud scales are. In a few days we’ll enjoy a profusion of rich red blossoms for the short period it is in bloom.

Thimbleberry blossom

Each thimbleberry flower is only open for a day or so, soon dropping its petals and leaving the central ovaries to develop into one of our favorite fruits. Rubus nutkanus fruit doesn’t look like much now, but in a few weeks they’re be a luscious and delicious red that beckon to be eaten straight from the plant.

Vine Maple developing samaras

We’re all familiar with maple seeds, the little “helicopters” that dip and swirl as they fall to the ground. Here, vine maple (Acer circinatum) flowers are finishing up and we can observe the little samaras developing. Samara is the botanical term for a fruit in which a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue develops from the ovary wall.

Over the next few weeks these specialized seeds will grow and mature before they fall to the ground. On vine maples, they’re always in pairs, one opposite the other.

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