Tags Posts tagged with "Forsythia"

Forsythia

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

As I drive along the local roads, the sight of the bright yellow forsythia, the symphony of pink cherry blossoms, dogwood and magnolia and the yellow daffodils waving” hello” uplift my spirits and bring me joy. Yes, it’s spring, glorious spring! And the weather could not be more cooperative. We have been able to shed our heavy jackets, sweaters and such, and even give our air conditioners a brief trial run when the temperature hit the high 80s and stayed there for a couple of days. Best of all, we know this splendor is early, and the beautiful season, when Nature festoons the earth, is just beginning.

At one and the same time, the news about human activities blackens the world. Every day, yes every day, we wake up to the news of more mass shootings, more homicides. Because a teenage boy rings the bell of the wrong house on his errand to pick up his younger siblings, he is then shot to death. Because a car full of teenage girls pulls into the wrong driveway, shots are fired at the vehicle as it is trying to back out and one young woman is killed. Because yet another unarmed young man tries to run away from the police at a traffic stop, he deserves to be murdered.

What is happening to our country?

These horrors are occurring because people are afraid. Unless he has cognitive issues, why would an 84-year-old man answer his door with a gun? Why would someone inside a house shoot at a car that just entered the driveway unless they were terrified for themselves. This is more than a mental health issue, which might be blamed for shooting up employees in a bank. This is about cold, petrifying fear.

Thank heavens that Nature goes about her business transforming the earth into a paradise because we humans need something to offset the hell we are creating. People are asked if they are afraid for their children to go to school. To school, which was always the safest place to get children off the streets. Now more than three quarters of the parents say, “Yes.” And so do more than half of the children in elementary school and middle school. Never mind COVID-19 and inflation. They are passing, or will eventually. But the violence that we are living with? That just seems to be getting worse.

What can we do? We know that bad things happen when good people do nothing. But how can we improve our society?

One answer, I believe, is to turn to family and community. Strong family support and a tight-knit community offer security that is close at hand. Parents who let their children feel the love, who set standards and limits, who teach values by example and talk to their children about fears, who are there when most needed — these actions go a long way toward offering meaningful response to a frightening world.

For us adults, meeting the neighbors and creating a Neighborhood Watch for mutual protection is both a safety and social advantage. Participating in one of the many local non-profits, from Rotary to the civic associations and PTAs in the schools to the historical societies to actually running for office can strengthen a sense of belonging and empowerment.

And then there is kindness. I’m not sure how one goes about teaching kindness except by practicing it. Kindness offsets bullying, it makes both the giver and receiver feel noticed and valued. Who has time to visit a sick neighbor? But then, we all have time to hold the door open for the person behind us, and for that person to thank the door holder, or to let the car waiting to join the line of traffic enter in front of us and in return see a thank-you wave.

And there is always Nature for respite. A walk in the park or along a beach can be restorative. Nature, too, can be violent, but storms pass. With effort and focus, perhaps human storms can, too.

SPRING GARDEN

Stony Brook Camera Club member Pam Botway snapped these gorgeous photos to share with our readers  in perfect timing with Earth Day. The East Setauket resident writes, “Here are some cheery photos of spring. Reminding people to look for the good or be part of the good, during these scary times.”

HOPE ‘SPRINGS’ ETERNAL

Alyssa Cutler took this photo of a forsythia branch in Port Jefferson on April 2. She writes,  ‘[This was taken] right after the snow stopped on April 2. This is what Long Islanders are about. Strong backs to weather storms, eternally hopeful and rejoicing in the beauty around us. Also, we smile a lot more in the spring and summer!’

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected].

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Flowering quince blooms before leaves appear. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

The gardening season is winding down. You’ve probably enjoyed your tomatoes and have started thinking about your herbs and how to preserve them for winter use (you can, of course, bring container grown herbs into the house in a sunny location).

So, it’s hard to think of spring flowers when we’re facing autumn’s mums and winter’s chill. However, it you want a gorgeous, early spring garden, there are certain things you must do now.

◆ Plant your spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, etc.). They can actually be planted as long as the ground is not frozen.

Fothergilla is a slow grower. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Fothergilla is a slow grower. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Plant your spring flowering trees. These include dogwood, magnolia, flowering cherry, flowering crab apple and redbud.

◆ Plant shrubs that bloom in early spring. If you already have some in the ground, do not, I repeat, do not, prune them in late autumn. You will be removing next spring’s flower buds. Rule of thumb, prune flowering shrubs immediately after they have bloomed so as not to interfere with their bloom cycle.

Probably the earliest shrub to bloom in spring is witch hazel, with its delicate yellow flowers. In a mild winter it may even bloom in February, but March is more likely. Since it is blooming so early, the flowers come out long before the leaves. And, yes, this is the plant from which the astringent witch hazel is made.

Forsythia also blooms before the leaves appear with a mass of yellow flowers. You can even force the flowers in late winter if you see flower buds starting to form. Cut some branches, bring them indoors and put them in a vase with room temperature water. Soon, the vase will be filled with the cheery flowers. Forsythia plants make a great, easy to grow hedge. A fast grower, they can be cut back to make them the height you want.

Witch hazel with its yellow flowers is the earliest bloomer on Long Island. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Witch hazel with its yellow flowers is the earliest bloomer on Long Island. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Flowering quince produces gorgeous red, pink or orange flowers, again, before the leaves appear. The plant can easily reach up to six feet tall, but there are shorter cultivars. A native of China, it is usually grown here for its flowers, not its fruit. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Some varieties have thorns while others are thornless. Check the tag or research the cultivar if you either want (as a barrier) or don’t want (around kids) thorns.

The P.J.M. Rhododendron blooms in early spring, usually April, ahead of most rhodies, which tend to come out in May. The pinkish-purple blossoms are born on a relatively slow growing plant that reaches three to six feet in height. An evergreen, it does well in partial shade in hardiness zones 4 to 8. A row of them makes a lovely, relatively low hedge.

Pieris (andromeda) comes out quietly in spring. Most plants available have either white or pink flowers, but ‘Valentine’ has absolutely beautiful burgundy flowers. ‘Valentine’ blooms ahead of the other varieties, frequently before I’ve tidied up the garden in spring.

Fothergilla blooms with lovely white flowers. The slow-growing, deciduous shrub blooms in April to May after the leaves appear. The plant does well in zones 5 to 8.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.