The abnormally warm weather of December broke records for mildness and confused Mother Nature into an early show of spring. Bulbs emerged out of the ground and some shrubs prepared to bloom.
In my yard in Arbovale, a single red bloom popped out on the Flowering Quince bush sometime before New Year’s, while the rest of the buds were swelled and ready to open. Since cold temps were about to return, I broke off several short branches and brought them into the house, placed them in a vase of water, and provided them every opportunity to bloom. After about 10 days, the buds opened and the blooming began. But the confusion seemed to linger as the flowers seemed to forget what color they should be. All emerged white with just a tiny bit of pink blush on some instead of the expected garish red.
The Flowering Quince is usually thought of as an old-fashioned shrub that blooms early, usually right after the serviceberry in late April. The bright orange-red flowers are welcomed by honey bees, hummingbirds and passing orioles and provide a sweet shot of nectar to all. This Asian native – from the genus Chaenomeles sp and sometimes called Japonica – spreads easily by underground suckers and can overrun the countryside. Deer find it tasty – let them take care of the pruning.
So, will the rest of those swelled buds bloom in the springtime or will they get set back by winter’s freeze. We will have to hang around until then to find out.
And what about those white flowers in the vase? The red color on the bush probably comes about because of minerals that pass up through the roots, and the tap water in the vase just didn’t cut it.
In a way, that might be a lesson for all of us. Don’t forget your roots.