One of the flowers in bloom during our visit to Longwood Gardens last week was the columbine. I have never seen columbine before. They are beautiful flowers that come in all sorts of colors and variations. Its genus name, Aquilegia, is from the Latin for eagle. The shape of the flower petals are thought to resemble the talons of an eagle. Columbine, on the other hand, means dove or pigeon. There are some who think the petals resemble five doves nestled together.
Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks… We learned to do what only the students of nature ever learn, and that was to feel beauty.
~ Luther Standing Bear (1868-1939)
This morning I stood at the back of the house and looked out at the meadows stretching out towards and around the pond, the meadow grasses merging with the wetland cattails, the cattails leading the way to the woods. Everything is so incredibly green. It’s as if the Green Man himself came by and with one touch brought the greening of the land.
One of my favorite springtime flowering trees is the eastern redbud (cercis canadensis). I first noticed the redbud in abundance (and in the wild) when we lived in West Virginia and southern Ohio. The bark of the tree has been used to treat dysentery and the flowers can be eaten in salads. They need sunlight to produce their blossoms, but don’t care too much for heat or sun during the summer months so they do well in partial shade. In the spring months they can often be spotted as part of the forest undergrowth, the colors of the flowers making them pop out.
The redbud is also known as the Judas Tree because it is believed to be the type of tree on which Judas hanged himself. The eastern redbud, however, is a different type than the redbud which grows in the Mediterranean.
I had to look up to capture these photos. Although redbuds are not the tallest trees in the forest (or in Hershey Gardens where I took these pictures), they are still trees and taller than me. I didn’t realize until I looked up that the buds sometimes sprout directly from the trunk of the tree.