Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Flowers of November

All month, I've been enjoying the gentle surprise of flowers continuing to bloom around my perch on the mountain. And I'm not the only one to take note of the persistent burst of blossoms. In the New York Times last week, Andy Newman wrote "I’ve never noticed as many flowers blooming so late in the year before." ( See "The Flowers of Late November." )

Even so, I wasn't expecting to see ornamental trees in full bloom on the day after Thanksgiving.

These are at the Jackson County Justice and Administration Center in Sylva. Though I'm not very good at identifying ornamental plants, I believe they are flowering cherries. (I know I got the "flowering" part right!)

They look very similar to trees pictured and described by blogger and plants person Susan Mertz, who posted the following from Kansas City on November 11:

While out tagging trees for an order shipping tomorrow, I saw this wonderful Autumn Flowering Cherry. The clusters of blush pink flowers look so beautiful against the blue sky. Autumn Flowering Higan Cherry, Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis', actually flowers heavily in the spring with an occasional lighter flowering during a warm period in the fall. The green summer leaves were orange and bronze earlier this fall. It is a fast growing tree that will mature 30 x 30'.

I have no idea if the Justice Center bloomers are Autumn Flowering Cherries. but to read more about that variety, follow this link:
It sounds like a desirable variety to plant (at least for anyone who wants to plant things they can't eat).

Traditional Japanese literature has an entire genre of "sakura" or "cherry blossom" poetry going back fifteen centuries or more. Here are some random examples from the verse devoted to the blooms:

are they falling, not falling? this I would ask
of him who has seen them, and returns homesick
from that country steeped in flowers

from what lofty heights
come so many blossoms to my hut?
first as if held back – then,
unforeseen, this sudden cascade!

the radiance of cherry blossoms, their scent,
ever fresh with every passing year –
so man grows old, eternally

who knows the dwelling-place
of blossom-scattering winds:
if some one told me
I’d go to him and complain

in this hamlet I’ll spend the night –
the cherry blossoms falling thick
have made me stray from my homeward path

alas, dark gusts of mountain wind
have stripped the cherries naked;
may the flowering dew of sunrise
spread across my sleeves

spending the spring night in the foothills
I slept, and deep inside my dream
blossoms fell without cease

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