Nearly no one gardens anymore……whether the vegetable or the flower one…..even in Minnesota.
Seventy years ago, even during World War II and its previous Depression years, most city folk did manage to garden for food and flower …..as did our local farmers who hadn’t lost their land.
“Working” the land was still common regardless of ‘plot’ size. People knew what kohlrabi and bleeding heart were.
Redbuds were understory trees, weeding throughout eastern forest openings incapable of growing here in the colder midwest where winters often included evenings of minus 30 plus Fahrenheit. Most Americans those days moving West into Minnesota came from Maine and Massachusetts before and during our Scandinavian settlements. They missed their Redbud (Cercis canadensis) capable of growing in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario as well. For years horticulturists at the University of Minnesota worked overtime to cause Redbuds to become hardier in order to join their thirst for more beautiful Springs.
During and shortly after the War, the wealthy of the Lake Minnetonka area estates would plant trial seedlings of Redbud from the University’s extension service east of Waconia. Eventually, this Northern Redbud became reliable enough as an attractive local Twin City area understory both in clump form and in bright pink floral color arriving for show before foliage develops.
Most of my landscape garden where I live is without lawn….I have plotted it to be that way. I bought my first Northern Redbud about 30 years ago….and purposely planted the clump rather crooked to one side in hope that it would develop a spectacular form during its old age.
It obliged…with this Spring bloom the most beautiful of all in color and form. “Plants, gardens, like people, gain character with age”, I have often claimed.
Another purchased Northern Redbud planted about ten years ago, has struggled to look good in shape, for the color of hot pink in early May is always bright and clean of all the mature and living….usually.
Northern Redbuds seed profusely where ‘open’ soil is available. Their countless pea family pods are filled with seeds following their hot pink display. Not all Redbuds are equal weed seed producers, however. In my own mostly woodsy-like garden settings, dozens and dozens of seedlings are produced every Spring. The vast majority will live a year or two before they succumb to the stress of yesterday’s tenderness to temperatures colder than ten below zero of winter wear or be eaten by rabbits for their winter evening and morning meals.
Yet, some eaten still survive such meals and send out side shoots at the edges groundward from the eatings causing two to four side shoots to develop to keep the Redbud factory alive often for a good thirty years of character forming some of the most beautiful clumps.
This past late April and May have produced the most beautiful, longest blooming period in Redbud history here in our Gopherland. My ten or more Redbuds have been in a spectacular stage of bloom for three weeks, longer than ever before. This Spring’s flock has likely been the biggest, happiest, most beautiful Northern Redbud bloom ever in our western Twin City suburbs: cool nights with ‘hotless’ days with no wild rainfalls or heavy snowfall. Few, if any, have shed their hot pink.