The Ugly Duckling Becomes a Beautiful Swan

For the last couple of weeks I have been bud-watching.  You can see these posts here: first Early Birds, and then The Dawn Chorus and Bursting Buds.

On Friday evening, this is how Stevie and I inspected the trees, accompanied by evening sun, a glass of wine each, and the smell of the barbecue.  It was the perfect end to a perfect day

The amelanchier blossom has been fluttering like confetti all over the rose garden, and this is what the tree looks like now:

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The ephemeral nature of blossom is perhaps why we love it so much.  This blossom lasted perhaps for two weeks, never looking the same from one day to the next.

The peach too is over, but we are hoping for a good set.  Some years we get lots of peaches, others just three or four peaches.  They are woolly in texture to eat, but make the most luscious jam.  Well, Stevie makes the most luscious jam.

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I am having my doubts that our crab-apple is Malus ‘Royalty’.  Certainly in this picture the blossom looks too burgundy-red, with not enough pink in it, but it was taken in the evening light.

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Either way, I like the sobriety of this tree.  There is plenty of froth and fizz to come from the apple (drumroll):

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Ok, so the apple is taking its time, but it will probably last the longest: three or four weeks is typical.  But the pear has graced us with its presence:

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The pear is perhaps my favourite blossom, being pure white with those dramatic black anthers.

There is only one tree which beats the profusion of pear, and that is the cherry:

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That picture doesn’t really do it justice.  The whole tree is a fluffy cloud of white.

But the most beautiful buds prize this week goes to that ugly duckling, the walnut.  Just look at it now:

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There is such sculpted elegance in those leaves.  They have just a touch of apricot-bronze.  And the silvery shimmer!  Look at it from this angle:

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And this:

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The pineappley things turn out to be blossom buds, but I think the leaves are the real stars.

Biding its time, because it wants to beat the apple next week, is my mystery bud.  This is a bit embarrassing, but fantastic at the same time.  I asked readers if anyone knew what the tiny little red buds were, and I got back the answer Circis siliquastrum, or ‘Judas tree’ (or ‘redbud’).  Surely not, I thought, for I have admired pictures of the Judas tree in my Carol Klein book, Life in a Cottage Garden, and have considered garden visits based purely on their famed Judas trees.

But, yes, it does appear that these buds match exactly the photos online.  Here they are now, the buds having popped just a little:

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Looking particularly lovely against a blue sky.

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And close up, like little jelly beans:

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So how is it possible that I have failed to notice that we have our very own Judas tree in our front garden?  Has it been frosted before?  Have I just been distracted at this time of year by the tulips?  Or by the other divine tree behind it which has dripping blackcurrant laburnum-like flowers?  I shall be posting a picture for identification soon – it is late this year.

But no matter, I am delighted to be the proud owner of this fantabulous tree.  And I will take a photo when it bursts.  And I forgive the previous owners of the garden for that bamboo, and for the wretched Spanish bluebells, because you gave us the gift of a Judas tree.  Thank you.

Have you ever been surprised to find you already own a lusted-after specimen?  Or is it just me?  Have you had the (more common) experience of planting one thing and then discovering it is actually another?

33 Comments Add yours

  1. janesmudgeegarden says:

    How wonderful to have a Judas tree. Perhaps you didn’t notice it because they grow so slowly. On another blog recently, I learned that the term for when buds grow straight out of the trunk is ‘cauliflorescence’. Everyone is mentioning Alemanchier, I tree I had never heard of until the last week, and I’m finding it to be very desirable!

    1. Ali says:

      Oh my goodness, ‘cauliflorescence’ may just be my new favourite word. That beats ‘floriferous’! Amelanchier is lovely. There are four seasons of interest – blossom, summer foliage, autumn foliage, and fruit. In some ways I think of it as being a lower maintenance magnolia – you don’t notice the blossom dropping except in a lovely way, you certainly don’t need to clear up after it, and the effect of blossom against a blue sky is similar, if a little more subtle.

  2. Last spring, I discovered that the mystery tree in the lawn was a quince after it became covered in blossom. When I’d moved into my house the previous September there had been no identifying fruit to be seen, but last year it was covered and I made my first-ever batched of quince cheese and jelly. The blossom buds are looking good for this year so far so fingers crossed!

    1. Ali says:

      What a brilliant find! We’re hoping ours might fruit for the first time this year.

  3. fredgardener says:

    The Judas tree is already high ! I’m waiting for next week’s pictures… I sowed seeds brought back fromBarcelona and Mine is so ridiculous and tiny… I’ll be back ( in many years) to present it in this blog ! 🤣

    1. Ali says:

      I spotted another today in my parents’ next door neighbours’ garden, which they haven’t noticed before. They’re convinced it hasn’t blossomed before…

  4. pommepal says:

    I’ll join you anytime with a glass of wine and a wander round your garden Ali. What a joy it is in a new garden waiting to see what previous owners have planted. How long have you been in your piece of heaven?

    1. Ali says:

      Coming up for 4 years, so you would think I would have noticed before now!!

  5. Your garden looks lovely – a glass of wine in hand is the perfect was to enjoy the end to the perfect day! Love all of your various fruit tree blossoms, as well as the Judas tree. What a wonderful surprise for you!

    1. Ali says:

      Isn’t it? Enjoying the sunny evenings. Hope you are too.

  6. John Kingdon says:

    I’ve had Judas tree envy for years – Mum had a large one but I’ve failed twice to get one to establish here. My Malus (var. unk.) started to bud on Monday and today it’s covered in deep pink buds. I wish it would stay that way but next week the buds will open into washy off-white flowers. Traditionally we wil then have a storm which blows them all off within a week of opening. The forecast this year looks good, though, so I may get to enjoy the blossom a bit longer. My cherry, on the other hand, is being extremely tardy this year. Again, it’s “var. unk.” and I’m hoping it’s not one with a short lifespan as it’s 25 years old.

    1. Ali says:

      It takes years to identify things you haven’t planted yourself, doesn’t it? If ever. With apples I guess it’s unlikely you will unless you happen to have a visitor who recognises it.

  7. rogerandlis says:

    Fantastic walnut leaves! Do you get a good crop of nuts? We had a huge tree in Wales for years but never a nut, I think the climate was all wrong. No shortage here though, they are a local staple. Believe it or not, the bluebells here are the common ‘English’ type, bit ironic when those Spanish thugs are such a scourge elsewhere! Glad to see the glasses of wine, essential to a relaxing evening in the garden! 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      We do get a great crop, which the squirrels enjoy, whilst laughing at us! That’s funny re:bluebells!

  8. bcparkison says:

    Oh goodness yes….a planting of blueberry had an addition of crapemyrtle.(sp).But we were able to transplant .

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh! Bonus! Generally it’s weeds you accidentally bring in!

  9. Heyjude says:

    I envy you your trees and blossoms. The Amelanchier sounds like a true beauty, but sadly I have no room in this garden for more trees. I do have a mystery tree though. I shall post about it on my blog and see if anyone can ID it.

  10. Ali says:

    It’s so useful having a wealth of knowledge to call on, isn’t it?

  11. Such beautiful photos, Ali, especially the emerging walnut leaves – gorgeous!

    1. Ali says:

      Am glad you admired the walnut too!

  12. Nicky says:

    I love watching buds burst into life, not just in my own garden (which I’ve only lived with for 4 months so I’m constantly surprised at what’s popping up!) but all around in other gardens & the surrounding fields & hedgerows. It’s an inspiring time of year 😊

    1. Ali says:

      It is. No other entertainment is needed! 😀

  13. Again, spectacular garden update! The walnut leaves are incredible as are the buds of the Judas tree. There are a few of them growing in my neighborhood. I’ve always wanted a crape myrtle and a paperbark maple! There is no room for either in my garden so I enjoy looking at the neighbors.

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh, I love crepe myrtle too. I’m like that with magnolias – I love the huge ones in other peoples’ gardens.

      1. I noticed a yellow magnolia tree last week on my way to somewhere. Tried to get out of the car to take photos but couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere nearby. I’m headed that way again Wednesday and will bring my camera and allow extra time to hopefully make it happen! Magnolias are some of my favorites as well, and just like you I enjoy them in other peoples yards! Happy Spring and Gardening! 🙋

      2. Ali says:

        I don’t think I’ve seen a yellow one. Sounds lovely!

      3. They are beautiful! I’ll make an extra effort to take some pictures! 😉

  14. Rupali says:

    Beautiful shots.

  15. Your blog is so inspiring. I loved all the pictures in this one, but I really liked the wine glasses at the beginning. What a beautiful way to end the day.

    1. Ali says:

      It was, thank you Shelly. X

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