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Bumble Bees

Trailing Arbutus Flowering

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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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