“Those colors unique to the forest setting, and none too numerous for one to see. So, one is constantly on the lookout for, that one-of-a-kind, southern redbud tree.”
— Bill Gavin, Massachusetts poet
A few years back Sam decided to clear out an area near the pond of overgrown and broken cedars, bodock, brambles, brush and briars. It was my job to mark the redbud trees with a spot of spray paint so as not to accidentally remove any redbuds. Removing the unwanted trees, particularly the evergreen cedars, allowed more sunlight
to reach the redbuds. Within a few years this area became affectionately known to us as Redbud Park. With the cedars gone along with the branch debris, the grass grew and could be mowed resulting in a pleasant park-like area.
Redbud blossoms are another harbinger of spring. Well before the leaves appear numerous bright pea-size purple-pink flowers appear on its spindly branches. A neighboring farmer once said most redbuds grow on the edge of a woods seeking sunlight. When the sunlight hits those vivid blooms it’s an explosion of beauty. The blooms come out so early, they are the sole act at center stage. The only possible competitor could be the yellow daffodils and those are tops in the flower category.
A few facts about the redbud include they do come in different colors and shades. There are different varieties and native cultivars ranging from pink, lavender, white, magenta with a few different leaf colors. Our variety of wild redbuds have the dark purple-pink color and are known as the Eastern Redbud. This variety is not picky about soils and will even grow in the Prairie clay. The tree requires a bit of patience as it only grows about one to two feet a year. It thrives in zones four to nine, with us being in zone seven.
Like the daffodils, the blooms will remain about two weeks before the leaf foliage takes over. While three states host a Redbud festival be assured you can see as many redbuds here in the Golden Triangle. Alongside Highway 82 venturing west between Columbus and Starkville are a multitude of redbuds should you like to see them in all their glory. Start looking to your right when you pass over Catalpa Creek to the exit for highway 45 North to West Point. I tried to count the number of redbuds but at 68 miles per hour it was near impossible.
Other than trees, daffodils, and dandelions, I’m waiting to see what my wildflowers from last year will do. The year before last year I planted wildflowers ordered from a seed company. Last year I harvested some local wildflower seeds and planted those. As yet I have not removed the fallen leaves blanketing the beds to see what remains.
I do plan to order zinnia seeds and the “Cut Flower Mix” from the same seed company. Some seeds you can plant in the fall. The first wildflower seeds were planted in the fall. The instructions for the new seeds suggest planting in the spring “when all chance of frost is over.” I’m thinking maybe the day after Easter could be relatively safe.
Columns by Shannon Bardwell of Columbus appear in The Dispatch weekly. Email reaches her at [email protected]