What are those purplish pink trees along the road? Rhapsody on Redbuds
Rhapsody on Redbuds
I finally have a redbud tree.
Or perhaps it has me.
The redbud has long held me in its thrall.*
I’m thrilled that planting a free Arbor Day redbud seedling about seven years ago was all it took. We planted two and they are thriving.
Redbud trees are so hardy, springing up everywhere in the wild especially on the edge of forests.
I never knew what a redbud tree was, or even that there was such a thing, growing up in northern Indiana. Or maybe I was just ignorant and flower-poor. I certainly don’t think we had them growing there wild, in woods and byways everywhere. I’ve read that Chicago is about as far north as they grow well.
But I lived in the mountains of eastern Kentucky as a volunteer “teacher” the year after I graduated from high school and became acquainted with the Eastern Redbud, native to the U.S. My roommate hailed straight out of the desert surrounding Phoenix, Arizona, so she was the first one I heard rhapsodizing on redbuds. She would go on about the beautiful springs in Kentucky, stunned by so much green. She loved the dogwood too, and the interlacing of white blooms and purplish pink. It was only my 19th spring and having lived in only two places, I too fell in love with the rampant redbud. Something about the artistry of its dark branches accented by bright purple, looking like Japanese wall décor, maybe. The Chicago Tribune, where I was reading about the redbud, says they “set flowers on the bark, which trace the outline of the branches.” Ah, yes, that’s it!
Of course a redbud is more purple and pink than red. That’s why people get confused when they first start looking for or noticing the beauty of redbuds. Conversations go something like this: “What are those purplish pink trees along the road?” “Redbud.” “No, the flowers are purple.” “Yes, that’s redbud.” Would you call the flowers fuchsia?
However you describe them, I think it is the way the tiny blossoms lace through our barely turning woods on these Virginia mountainsides that speak to me of joy and new life and wonder after the long hard winter. Tints of soft green on other woodland trees paint a gentle contrast.
My sister, with some experience as a groundskeeper at a campground, told me how to prune it early, so that we wouldn’t have two or three trunks, and allow it to focus its strength growing into a main trunk. That was hard and painful. What if I pruned back the wrong one? As I inspected other redbuds that just sprang up wild near my office, I knew that many could prosper with several trunks growing closely together.
Applause for the Creator of all things wild and beautiful, from one small creature here.
The redbud speaks to me spiritually, pointing me to beauty, to hope, to thriving life in the midst of the hardships of forest life.
* “Thrall: The state of being … under the sway of an influence.”
What is your favorite flowering tree? What for you is the best part of Spring where you live?
Or what have you pruned in your life that was painful, but for which you were eventually glad ?