Spring Blossoms

We are starved for color in winter and early spring  in the northern Great Plains.  Husband and I have been fortunate in our travels since April to be in places when the flowering trees and shrubs are at their peak.  We were in Brookings, SD last weekend and the flowering crabs, plums, and apple trees were beautiful. In Santa Fe we saw  blooming fruit trees of all types. I was amazed, though, when we were in Los Angeles and I saw blooming Jacaranda trees for the first time.

I have never seen trees that shape and size with blue/purple flowers.  I have no idea what they look like with their leaves.  It is said to be good luck if the flowers fall on your head. The seeds and sap  are said to be quite poisonous, though.  They are  found mainly in tropical climates, but have survived to winter temperatures as low 19 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t think they would winter over very well up here.

What are your favorite and least favorite trees and shrubs?


40 thoughts on “Spring Blossoms”

  1. Researchers at North Dakota State University horticulture department recently announced that they developed ND hardy Magnolia and Redbud trees. I think that is exciting.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I was also amazed when I discovered the Jacaranda tree. So different and so lovely.

    You guys have heard me whine the last couple of days so you know that my least favorite flowering shrub right now is the hydrangea. I mean I love it when it’s working in other people’s yards but I didn’t love it in mine.

    I dont know if I have a favorite though ..there are so many beautiful flowering trees and shrubs. That’s one of the things that I do miss about spring in St Louis. They have the most amazing number of flowering trees and shrubs during spring.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One that I liked a lot in Robbinsdale was the mock orange – such a sweet smelling blossom… same with plum blossoms. And I love lilacs, miss those. I’m contemplating putting something in on the edge of the front yard, but have to be mindful of how big it will become eventually – maybe a forsythia – bright yellow to go with our front door! Or a deep purple lilac.

    I’m not wild about the viburnum we have that hides the front door – no color ad the scent isn’t that great.


  4. Maples are my favorite trees, with aspens in the fall in Colorado a close second. Least favorite currently are the giant cottonwoods in our backyard and neighboring yards only because of the cotton snow they let loose starting about now for a month or so. Clogs up the rain gutters, and screens. However, it is pretty when we get a “snowstorm” because the fluff drifts down ever so slowly and has a strangely calming effect on me.

    Shrubs? Haven’t thought much about those. I guess lilacs for the smell and pretty flowers. And I like a neatly trimmed hedgerow (who doesn’t?). Speaking of jacarandas, there are some nasty-ass shrubs in the desert SW that’ll rip your hand to shreds if you get too close. I think cholla is the one I’m thinking about.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    This is a great discussion to read at this time. We have the “challenge” of a new fence on the south side of our lot which we are now planning to camouflage and decorate. “Challenge” means irritating new neighbor who displays OCD tendencies. He decided he needed a fence for his yard after about 40 years of no fences here. He hired a surveyor to define the lot line. We had for years, just mowed where the former owner told us the lot line was. The survey certainly redefined that line. Then OCD neighbor put a 6 foot brown wood fence exactly on that line, forcing us to move plantings and the invisible dog fence on his timeline. While he is technically correct in all this, his attitude is offensive, especially after MR. OCD expected us to do some things for him (trim a tree to his standards for example), also on his timeline and to his standards and at our expense. I wonder how this will go when his sons are teenagers who don’t meet expectations?

    So there will be a flowering shrub hedge springing up along the very opaque and very brown fence—probably hydrangea. There are already lilacs along the back of the fence. We can put some along the front as well. I do love the lilacs. We put a cherry tree in our yard a few years ago. That really puts out the blossoms and the pie cherries, as well.

    I don’t know that I have one favorite, Chris’ favorite of maples are also one of mine. Mountain Ashes are also a lovely tree. We have one, our second, in the back yard. Asian beetles killed the first one about 5 years ago. They chewed the leaves down to nothing. A great love of mine are Oak Savannahs—a grove of oak trees is so beautiful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you’re right, Jacque, he’s within his right to put up a fence, but wouldn’t it have been nice if he had spoken with you beforehand? Just as a courtesy, to let you know that he was going to do it. He may have had his reasons. It would also have made a big difference, if he had tried to work out a mutually agreeable timeline for making the changes. As it is, he has created unfriendly neighbor relations. That said, I’m not sure that it’s wise to further escalate the conflict by planting something that you think will irritate him. (I’m hoping that’s not the only reason for the hydrangea choice?)

      Our next door neighbors wanted to plant raspberry bushes along their side of our fence a couple of years ago. I asked them to reconsider that location, knowing that they have a tendency to spread, and I didn’t particularly want them on my side of the fence. They agreed, and planted them somewhere else. And now, they’ve just sold their house and will be moving at the end of June. We’ll miss them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. He did talk with us PJ, but in the talk he demanded that we do these things and basically gave us orders. It was very unfriendly. I found his attitude appalling and unnecessary. He lost our willingness to cooperate with him out of a desire to be good neighbors. We are not going to plant anything to irritate him. We are going to plant something just to make the fence more attractive, and to soften it. Right now it is just a plain brown wall that will attract nothing but weeds.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. if it’s right on the lot line you are in luck. if he planted it 1 foot on his property you wouldn’t be able to plant stuff on your side that utilized his structure .if it’s on the lot line you can construct and factor his fence into the equation


      2. With our neighbors on the other side we have a nice rhythm of negotiating these changes: We approach them with a “what would you think of….”. And they do the same with us. The one time we did not do that, they let us know that we had gone over the property line with a landscape feature, but in a kind and friendly way.

        I said, “Do you want us to move it?”

        Terry said, “no, it is a big improvement.”

        I said, “Then when the day comes and it needs to come down, we will be sure put anything else there within the line.”

        He said, “Great.”

        His wife and I have spent many hours sitting on that feature chatting away. Now the tree is too big for the little wall, and we took it down and everyone is happy and enjoying friendly relationships. I so value those kind of relationships. The new neighbor is a big disappointment.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I can imagine, and that’s really too bad. The kind of conversation you had with your other neighbor is the kind of talk I was lamenting your OCD neighbor didn’t have with you. It’s so much more pleasant when you have friendly relations with your neighbors. How long have your new neighbors been there? How old are their children?


        2. Their boys are 6 and about 1 year. They are nice kids, too. They moved into a property which had long been problematic. They are really an improvement—but still disappointing.

          One summer day last year I was weeding outside, and I heard the 6 yo and another neighbor boy in following conversation:

          “I said Poop.”

          “No, I said poop first.”

          “Uh Uuh. I said poop first.”

          Poop.poop.poop,poop. Giggles.

          It was adorable.

          Liked by 4 people

    2. Jacque, we had a similar experience. In 1974 we rented the lower half of an ugly old house that had been subdivided so it could be rented as a duplex. A concrete driveway went from the street to a large garage. To the south of us was a home with a large lawn. A very large tree grew just one or two inches from our driveway. A hose attached to the house sent a trickle of water nonstop to the base of the tree, something that seemed odd to us.

      A neighbor explained. The man who owned the place next to us was infuriated when the original owners of our house didn’t play along with his landscaping plans. He retaliated by planting a tree virtually on the property line, a tree that he watered almost literally nonstop. His plan was for the tree to grow until its roots buckled the driveway from beneath, so the tree was fed with hose water and hate. Neighbors! 😒

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my, what an attitude.

        Most of our neighbors here are really wonderful. The neighborhood is now turning over again so there are lovely young families with well-tended children who Play Outside. It is so comforting to have the windows open and to hear the sounds of children playing. It is really a jolt to encounter someone who is so unpleasant.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. As a child growing up in central Iowa, I had a clear favorite: the white paper birch. Minnesota had them. My home town did not. And in that time I believed Minnesota was as close to heaven as I would ever get.

    My favorite now is the northern cedar, the tree I met when we began exploring the magical landscape of the Brule River of northwestern Wisconsin. Some magnificent cedar trees sprout right near the river, trees whose ages might exceed a century or even two. Cedar trees smell as lovely as they look.

    If I were to pick a single tree for special affection, it would be the Witch Tree that overlooks Lake Superior, near Grand Portage. This tree was described by Sieur de la Verendrye, who noted it was a mature tree in 1731. It lives on today.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. NDSU also has developed a lot of new types of birches that may flourish out here where it is too dry for most other birches.

    Our neighbor to the north has some very poorly trimmed green ash trees that hang over the fence between our properties. The leaves clog our down spouts and make it so shady I can’t get grass to grow. She refuses to trim them, and was most upset with us when we exercised our right to trim the branches that hung over our property. She also plants invasive weeds and vines that she thinks are pretty, and they spread all over our gardens and flower beds. She finally cut back an Englemann ivy that was threatening to take down her fence. It climbs all over her ash trees and hangs down from the branches. She is younger than I am and had a stroke several years ago, which is when her odd planting activity started. We just trim and weed and try not to get too upset with her.

    My father decided once to plant wild flowers on his acreage, and like a good German, he planted them in rows. The idea of random seeding just didn’t sit well with him. My mother only liked trees that weren’t “dirty”, meaning they didn’t create a mess with flowers and fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too. That is so funny. But I get those Germans and their desire for order (Not Me Of Course). The new neighbor has a long German monitor.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve encountered the jacaranda tree a couple of times in San Diego. I see their color as “different” in the sense Minnesotans use different, i.e. I’m ambivalent about them. No strong like or dislike, just kinda meh. Your mom would consider it a dirty tree, they are no fun when they begin to drop their flowers.

    I love birches, oaks, and European beech trees, with the latter being my favorite, especially in early spring when they first leaf out.

    SIU’s campus, and Carbondale in general, was a wonder in the spring. Flowering trees everywhere. Magnolias, tulip trees, redbuds, dogwoods in wild profusion. I had never before lived in a place where these grew, and it seemed magical to me.

    Talk about dirty trees, my friend, Helen, had a huge cottonwood on one side of her house and a catalpa on the other. Both, of course, had redeeming qualities, but I’m pretty sure all of her neighbors were glad when the cottonwood had to come down a few years ago. The debris from the catalpa pretty much stayed on her property, right below the tree, so nobody much cared when that had to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the ginkgo trees that are planted on many boulevards in my neighborhood. They are beautiful and very tolerant of urban environments. The fruit of the female ginkgo, however, is really stinky. The City tries to plant all male trees, but it turns out that the ginkgo can spontaneous change sex. As I understand it, there are some Asian people, don’t remember if it’s the Vietnamese, that collect the fruit and consider it a delicacy. But the smell is no picnic, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Behind our second home in Ames there was an ancient catalpa tree. They are supposed to top out at 60 feet high, and this one was all of that. If you gave the tree a hug, the trunk was so thick you’d need three kids to wrap all around it with linked hands. In fall it dropped bizarre long seed pods. My dad and I visited our old home in 1998, having not seen it for forty years. The catalpa was gone, which seemed so wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The catalpa is not a particularly long-lived tree, the average life span in somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty years, so I’m guessing from your description of the tree when you last saw it as “ancient,” that it died from old age.


  11. I do love mountain ash when they get those red-orange berries (in the fall?)… And I loved our big box elder in Robbinsdale back yard – not because it was a box elder, but because it was such a presence there, gave much needed shade, provided tree fort space, limbs for swings…

    We have a hackberry tree back by our garage, and again: I like it just because it’s there – it doesn’t become particularly colorful in any season, but provides the one spot where I can grow some shade perennials..


    1. Personally, I love the mountain ash, but that love is tinged by the sadness my mom felt each year when those red-orange berries ripened. She did not transition into winter well, at all.

      Hans and I were given a mountain ash tree as a wedding gift. It was given a mortal wound a month later when the neighbors’ kids broke it during a football game. Yes, they were trespassing on our lawn, as was their want (and still is), and it never recovered from that injury. We had to take it down the following spring when it was evident that it had not survived the winter.


      1. Mountain ash are known in the British Isles as rowans and they figure prominently in the folklore of many countries. The rowan tree is supposed to protect the dwelling it’s planted near and a twig or branch of rowan provides protection from witches.
        Apparently it’s powerless against neighbor kids, however.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The berries from the mountain ash make a wonderful preserve. Which reminds me, anyone need any rhubarb?


  12. I have a volunteer tree in the front yard that bloomed for the first time this year. If it fruits, I may finally discover what kind of tree it is. Maybe a chokecherry or something? It has purplish foliage.

    I have a mock orange, too, but it’s not doing well this year. It has foliage only at the very ends of the branches.

    My neighbors across the street used to have a magnificent willow that towered over their block. It was beautiful when it leafed out in the spring, and especially so when it turned yellow in the fall. Sadly, its trunk became hollow and it began to be potentially hazardous, so chainsaws were called in. I still miss that tree.

    Liked by 2 people

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