Each year, just when we fear winter will never end, redbuds swell and eventually pop open creating a purple fantasy. I think God gave us redbuds as a kind of “Here’s to you, Kid,” for surviving another brown and gray Oklahoma winter.
If February is the cruelest month, then March is Little Miss Tricksy. One day, it’s 80F, then back down into the 30s. What’s a plant to do?
Go native, that’s what, and gardeners should follow their lead. Enjoy what nature has to offer and wait until late April to plant those tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant at the local box store.
About this time each spring, my email inbox also swells with questions about Cercis canadensis. People see that lavender against the Oklahoma blue sky, and they find they must have one or two for their yards. I mean, it’s Oklahoma’s state tree, right? Everyone should own this piece of Oklahoma.
Wait, just a moment and read on about redbud culture before plunking one down in your Bermuda grass yard. I don’t want your hearts broken by this small and lovely tree.
To get a real sense of what redbuds like, you should travel out to their native habitat where they bloom with Prunus gracilis, the Oklahoma sand plum. Both tend to grow along creek banks and roadways where the forest has been cleared, but they still retain some trees for wind protection. Redbuds like sandy soil, so placing one in clay is often a death sentence. They also need water during drought so long as they have good drainage.
I decided to drive out to the countryside to see them this morning, and I brought pictures back for you as a bit of Oklahoma springtime.
Hybridizers and plant selection specialists have heard your cry about having a redbud, and they’ve come up with some special cultivars in the last few years. One I see all over town is the wonderful ‘Forest Pansy’ with its bright purple blooms. In the countryside you’ll see native redbuds in lavender and darker shades of purple sometimes planted next to one another. Against he dark bark of the oak trees, they are quite a sight.
All of the redbuds on my property are natives, that is . . . until now. I sprung for a new introduction The Rising Sun™, and although it isn’t a large tree, I think it will settle in nicely. I did add a bit of organic matter to the soil when Helen Weis and I planted it, but I also placed it on a slope for additional drainage. I noticed when searching for this tree today that my friend Susan Cohan from Miss Rumphius Rules also fell for its charm.She has a better photo of the summer foliage colors.
This post about my favorite early spring tree and its plummy companions comes courtesy of Clay and Limestone’s Wildflower Wednesday. Check out Mr. Linky at the bottom of her post and see who else has wildflowers growing this March.