Sunday, February 20, 2011

Checking for Spring

So it has been gorgeous here this week in North Carolina--mostly in the 60's, but one day up to 70 degrees.  It's hard not to get Spring Fever!  But to check out whether or not it is actually spring, my son and I went to the JC Raulston Arboretum--the working garden maintained by the horticulture department at North Carolina State University.

Because we humans can think it is whatever season we want....but plants know better.

One of the great things about this arboretum is that they plant vegetation that blooms during all season.  So, for example, the have a winter garden that thrives during the cold weather (given that the winters in North Carolina are relatively mild).  It is, in fact, a great educational thing, if you live in the Raleigh area, to walk around this garden regularly, because it is laid out so that something is displaying its beauty during each season of the year.

However, as much as we would like to believe that we have a really early spring here, the plants aren't buying it--at least yet.

Only the front runners of the daffodils, which are the earliest flowers in the garden to come back in the new year, are displaying flowers:

Other than that, no native trees are blooming.  The blossoms appear only in those transplanted Oriental trees that usually send forth their fruit earlier than native plants, such as the Japanese flowering apricot:

the Manchurian forsythia:

and my favorite (coming from the Washington DC area), the beautiful if ephemeral cherry blossoms:

This is a great place to teach our children that humans may desire that seasons have arrived early, but nature will tell us what the truth of the matter is. 

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