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Trailing Arbutus Flowering

4-13-16  trailing arbutus IMG_8853

The fragrant flowers of Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) are starting to open in central Vermont.  While this plant, also known as Mayflower, is an early-flowering plant, it appears to be even more so this year.  Fortunately the earliest flowers survived the recent cold spell and will undoubtedly provide food for the several species of queen bumble bees that are soon to emerge from hibernation.

THE TRAILING ARBUTUS

I wandered lonely where the pine-trees made

Against the bitter East their barricade,

And, guided by its sweet

Perfume, I found, within a narrow dell,

The trailing spring flower tinted like a shell

Amid dry leaves and mosses at my feet.

 

From under dead boughs, for whose loss the pines

Moaned ceaseless overhead, the blossoming vines

Lifted their glad surprise,

While yet the bluebird smoothed in leafless trees

His feathers ruffled by the chill sea-breeze,

And snow-drifts lingered under April skies.

 

As, pausing, o’er the lonely flower I bent,

I thought of lives thus lowly, clogged and pent,

Which yet find room,

Through care and cumber, coldness and decay,

To lend a sweetness to the ungenial day

And make the sad earth happier for their bloom.

—      John Greenleaf Whittier

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13 responses

  1. shirlwalker@comcast.net

    Check yours out!  Maybe you could even try transplanting a few to VT.  MOMSent from Xfinity Connect Mobile App

    April 14, 2016 at 7:43 am

  2. Jane Swift

    Thank you so much for sharing that beautiful poetic tribute to such a beautiful and special spring wildflower. It made my heart smile.

    April 14, 2016 at 8:11 am

  3. Sue Carr

    How lovely! And the best picture of Mayflower, I’ve ever seen. SWC

    April 14, 2016 at 8:30 am

  4. k

    Lovely poetry. Thanks, Mary!

    April 14, 2016 at 9:08 am

  5. Doreen Morse

    My Dad faithfully brought my Mom a small bouquet of Mayflower every April for over 50 years…so I do associate it with love. Love the poem.

    April 14, 2016 at 9:09 am

  6. Edie Posselt

    You have made my day, revived my trust in life ‘righting’ itself. My mother’s favorite flower rare and special, surprising even the most doubtful. A symbol for the day! Thank you!

    April 14, 2016 at 9:19 am

  7. Thank you for the lovely poem! I had never read it before. I look forward to your posts each morning. My understanding is that, as Doreen mentioned above, men “back in the day” would search the woods for this plant, then bring the blossoms to their wives as a hopeful sign of spring. My mother recalled her father bringing a small bouquet to her own mother as an annual gift. My understanding of the alternate name “Mayflower” is that, according to legend, it was the first flower seen by the Pilgrims after the hard winter that followed their landing at Plymouth.

    April 14, 2016 at 12:00 pm

  8. Jenny

    Thank you Mary, I would love to see a mayflower in my woods in West Woodstock, but have not yet, I will keep a sharp eye out. And I love the poem, a perfect tribute and lovely cadence for this time of year.

    April 14, 2016 at 7:03 pm

  9. Lovely!

    April 14, 2016 at 8:30 pm

  10. Jack Carter

    Beautiful. Thank you for your column. I look forward to it with every posting.

    Jack

    April 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

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