Despite the fact that it feels like spring still stretches endlessly before us, the truth of the matter is that a considerable percentage of flowering plants have already lost their bloom. Looking at my own backyard, I recently realized that most of my personal favorites have already shriveled up into a hideous brown. And May has not yet come to a close. The time allotted by Mother Nature to cherish these spring time spectacles is short. Yet many people have such a hectic schedule that they never stop to "smell the roses" while racing from one activity to the next. Others are misinformed about certain plants' flowering span and consequently miss out. Fortunately, both cases can be avoided by a friendly reminder. That is why I have created a short synopsis of five flowering plants, which are currently in bloom all across Central Pennsylvania, to help you remember to take in these breathtaking, springtime spectacles while they last. I have additionally included descriptions of each plant to aid in their identification.
Rhododendrons: Rhododendrons earned the nickname 'King of the Shrubs' because they are considered the best flowering evergreen to grow in temperate climates. They grow in small clusters and can come in a wide variety of vibrant colors, including pink, purple and red. The large, paddle shaped leaves contrast nicely with the delicate, bell-shaped flowers. Rhododendrons expand upward, not outward, and have in the past been recorded to reach an unspeakable height of eighty feet. During a year with average weather temperatures, rhododendrons begin to blossom in May and are currently on the downhill slope.
Azaleas: Azaleas are included in the same family as rhododendrons, although rhododendrons are classified as an evergreen plant and azaleas are deciduous. They usually grow one flower per stem and include a wide of variety of colors, like pink, purple, yellow and white. The individual flowers are commonly described as resembling a trumpet, with the entire bush growing a maximum height of eight feet. The flowers unfold its petals for approximately two weeks and, just like the rhododendrons, are now rapidly nearing the end of its blooming season.
Roses: The most popular flower in the world, selling over one billion annually, has also unraveled its breathtaking petals. Depending on the type, roses can act like either bushes or vines. Flower nurseries all across the world have succeeded in creating roses of nearly every imaginable shade and color, minus black, which is currently being experimented upon. Thankfully, roses don't magically disappear overnight. Instead they bloom on and off throughout the summer, making them an all time favorite among plant lovers.
Irises: The word 'iris' literally means rainbow, which appropriately describes this flower's many hues. Irises range from purple and blue to white and yellow. They are also one of the few flowers who can produce glossy black petals. An iris bulb generally produces six petals, three of which stand upright, while the others droop downward. On average, irises bloom for two weeks and, if lucky, will keep their petals for an additional week.
Mountain Laurels: The last, currently blooming plant that I am highlighting is Pennsylvania's state flower- the Mountain laurel. This plant is a member of the 'Ericaceae' family, the same division that encompasses rhododendrons and azaleas. Technically, Mountain laurels are considered a shrub and can range from anywhere between four to ten feet in height. Several gardeners, all of whom live in the South, have cultivated Mountain laurels that reached an unfathomable height of forty feet. The soft white and pink blossoms first appear sometime between the middle and end of May, and continue to keep their bloom until well into June.
I hope this article will encourage each and every one of you to spend a few minutes of your day enjoying these truly breathtaking plants. Remember when it comes to spring, things disappear fasten then you think!
Published in The Enlightened Life: A community blog