Wonder at the Range of Hydrangeas

Last week a surprise gift bouquet with botanical notes about hydrangeas got me to start noticing their variety in my neighborhood. I marveled at the many different forms of delicate clustered blossoms among their handsome hardy leaves. Wikipedia affirmed that worldwide there are more than seventy species of hydrangea, including shrubs, vines and truly tall trees.

The range of subtle colors in one blossom or one garden of hydrangeas has also caught my eye.

Hydrangeas around here seem to survive, even thrive, through testy summer months.

Hydrangeas in Harvard Yard garden near Quincy Street, Cambridge
Holden Street, Cambridge, Late September 2018

Views here are selected from my newly made photo album, Hydrangeas , though they hardly represent the range of what I’ve seen within a few blocks of my home.

Irises Recall Presence of Birch from Past

Until two years ago, this tall graceful birch was a welcome landmark of a nearby park, reliable in my routines. When I became aware the birch was gone, I missed it and wondered why it was cut down, but I never sought out answers to that recurring question.

Then, admiring local irises this May, I drew closer with my iPhone to a lovely cluster in the park. The irises, probably planted years back around the birch’s trunk, encircled its remaining stump.

With closer viewing, the remaining wood, bark, moss, patterns and aromas raised new specific questions and an intriguing key question, “Is this tree truly gone?” Though transformed and less visible, the birch is still present.

Soon I was searching through photos from prior years in the same location where irises grew around the birch’s base. The flowers and the photos restored more memories of the tree that used to shelter them.

With no promise to dig deeper, this post is my response to the amazing, absorbing qualities of two kinds of plants I can name but barely know.

Range of Yellow, Intense to Mellow

I invented this mid-April post to allow at least two more magnolias, both with yellow tones, that started blooming after my post about those captivating trees.

Then, of course, the yellows of forsythia, tulips, and daffodils were also eye-catching.

Meanwhile in pots and vases, more yellows called attention!

Other alluring aspects of this color sing out from photos of hellebores, unidentified groundcovers and budding branches. Barred by my self-imposed quota of seven photos per post, they must wait for some future connection.

Bare Trees Work with Winter Skies

As buds begin on branches, I recall that blossoms, leaves and fruits will reduce the chances for sky and sun to interact with the structure of bare trees. While eyes and iPhones focus on compelling colors along with layers of growing green, I’ll lose sight of dramatic or intricate patterns of tree trunks, bark, limbs and branches for the next three seasons. This post presents reminders of what winter trees will offer again as autumn ends.

(I prepared most of this post, including the paragraph above, in the middle of March but as predicted I was distracted by spring colors. Now, mid-April with weird weather shifts, may be time to “publish” after all.)

Magnolias, Magnificent and Magnified, April 2021

A few magnolia trees in my neighborhood began to blossom tentatively in late March, followed by a full surge in early April with three bright mild days. Cold winds and rain soon sent many petals to settle, discoloring on the ground after the brief but spectacular displays of distinctly different magnolias. No wet spring snowstorms to weigh them down this year, so they can gracefully give way to other predictably brilliant showings of the season.

This post presents a select few of numerous views I was moved to take into my iPhone in recent weeks.

Blossoming Trees in Early May 2014

An old apple tree and a relatively young cherry in my yard have almost always blossomed simultaneously. These photos are from one day in May nearly seven years ago when I tried to record their sudden abundance and interplay.

A key motivation for beginning this blog was to remind myself and others of colors, textures, and vitality that are missing in stark winter weeks. Now in the midst of icy early March, I’ll leap at my last chance to share images that stand in for the luxurious real experiences soon to begin again.

Clematis in Cambridge

Clematis vines, leaves and beginning buds are graceful in themselves, while signaling the promise of slightly translucent flower petals unfurling, emerging from the subtle green overlapping leaves. Not sure my words or photos (from streets in my neighborhood) will convey the significance of clematis in my life, but here’s a chance to try.

Two clematis vines (with distinctly different color flowers) have reappeared predictably every year since 1994 along my low wooden fence. Their delicate, fragile yet enduring vines persevere through summer and early fall. A third one planted as a gift in 2007, promises similar persistence.

Clematis is a genus of about 300 species within the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Their garden hybrids have been popular among gardeners, beginning with Clematis × jackmanii, a garden standby since 1862; more hybrid cultivars are being produced constantly.” 

Mandevilla in Cambridge 2018 and 2020

Bright red abundant Mandevilla* adorned the fence and walls of one home on nearby Kirkland Street throughout the summer of 2020. Not until mid July did I properly identify those vines and begin trying to document their captivating qualities over the next few months. I hope to give them more careful attention this coming spring.

A few springs earlier, a bountiful gift from my sister had arrived on my porch. It was a tall trellised container of deliciously white “Bridal Bouquet” Mandevilla that became a highlight just outside my own home for many months. Still somehow I missed the clear connection to the larger-scale scarlet display a few blocks away.

* “Mandevilla /ˌmændɪˈvɪlə/[3] is a genus of tropical and subtropical flowering vines belonging to the family Apocynaceae. It was first described as a genus in 1840.A common name is rocktrumpet. Mandevilla species are native to the Southwestern United States,[ Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America.” ( excerpt from Wikipedia)

Community Garden, Sacramento Street, Cambridge, June 2015

In 2015, years before I had an iPhone, I took most photos with a Canon Powershot and edited them with Picture Manager on my PC. I was trying to capture the fleeting perfection of peonies, poppies, and irises to send to friends and family far from Cambridge or to save such moments for myself. Though even the few selected here fall short of the experiences of being there, they remind me of those invigorating visits.

Community Garden, Sacramento Street, Cambridge, 2020

More than any year before, in 2020 I was taken by the abundance of colors, styles, variations in this community garden two blocks from my home. Ever plotless, I was luckily still welcome to wander the paths among distinctly different plots that enhanced each other. Ever clueless, I enjoyed absorbing random clues to the way people managed their parts and the whole of this shared space.