Wednesday, June 3, 2009

blooming snowbells

Here is how I was feeling last Sunday when I took, and was going to post these pictures (but instead went out for drinks) …
Our Japanese Snowbells (Styrax obassia) are beautiful this year! Loaded with blossoms and very fragrant, I don’t recall their being this many flowers in previous years. They are especially gorgeous against the bluest blue skies we have been enjoying here in Portland. I love these trees!
And how I am feeling today…
These damn trees, what are they good for besides making a mess?! Why do they have so many stupid flowers that fall off at the same time making a mess all over the sidewalk, parking strip and street? It looks like a cheap theatre after a kid’s matinee! All those stupid flowers foretell the dreadful seeds that will drop in the gravel and take root, causing me to spend hours next spring pulling up seedlings. I hate these trees! Am I the only one with a love/hate relationship with some of my plants, shrubs and trees?


  1. Hi! I feel the same about huge fir trees surrounding our house. They are beautiful and provide a shade, but what about all the needles, cones, branches and blooms...Mess, mess, mess! I also have a love/hate relationship with the hops (I wrote about it in my post "Hops -a Scary Story", May 25). Well, good luck in cleaning that mess!

  2. Oh, no. I have constant Jekyll/Hyde (and that's, of course, Gertrude Jekyll) inner battles about plants in and around my garden. Especially the self-seeding kind: Norway maples. Violets. Cushion spurge. Few are so beautiful as your snowbells, though.

  3. No, you are not the only one! I'm pulling ash seedlings up by the bazillions, but I love my ash trees.

  4. I love the Japanese Snowbell, but I feel your pain. I planted an Albizia julibrissin, Silk Tree. Clearly I did not know what I was doing. And while I concede that it's beautiful when it finally gets around to leafing out and blooming, it's the messiest damn tree. On the other hand, hummingbirds love it, and I always practically swoon when I see it from my neighbors front yard. Though in fairness, I usually have a cocktail in my hand at said swooning time. The infamous city forester called it a "weak" tree. I thought initially he'd called it a "weed" tree. Truthfully, both descriptions work.

  5. Tatyana I just read your Hops post earlier today! I agree that the seed heads (?) are great, almost enough to tempt me into planting them. And I feel your pain with the Fir trees. I've got a couple constantly dumping on the patio, but I fought to save them so I try not to complain.

    Kim, too bad you can't sell the seedlings huh?

    Patricia with all this talk about the city forester I am beginning to think you've got connections! You would have been a good person to know during my crusade to save the Doug Fir trees in the lot behind us (infill developer wanted to cut them down to build, we won and only 1 tree came down). Notice I'm not pointing out all the cocktail talk though...(oh and I LOVE those Silk Trees!)

  6. Loree, Your post started out so peaceful and serene as you mused about snowbells, the loveliness of white upon blue... Then reality hit. And I had to laugh. This is SO true! I'm afraid I've got many love/hate plants.

    But speaking of trees, three sweet gum (Liquidamber) trees tower in my front yard. Beautiful foliage, healthy, thick trunks, shade, birds, all the attributes of a nice tree. But those godforsaken thorn balls, everywhere, always. No hospitable seasonal drop. More like year round whenever the wind blows, or doesn't. And step on one in your bare feet and they'll hear you in the next county. Definitely a love/hate.

  7. Trees are the biggest pain! I love our variegated box elders for their beautiful shade in the summer, but I hate them because they're messy, trashy trees that drop leaves and twigs the whole time they're in leaf. On top of that, they are not very nicely shaped and they sprout all along the branches. I'd never plant them if I were starting from scratch.

  8. I love this, I feel the same way about so many plants and trees. I do love styrax japonica and planted a really weak sapling a few years ago but haven't taken care of it and it's not to the blooming stage yet. Yours are so lovely but I sympathize about the crime scene cleanup. Didn't know they made so many babies... sounds painful!

  9. I've got a love/hate relationship with an old oak tree in our front yard. It's huge and very old. It provides shade and has been there for over 100 years I'm sure. But every spring I have to deal with the mess of pollen and the sprouts, and every fall I'm picking up acorns. And, I won't even mention the leaves it drops. But, who can hate an oak tree they are so majestic. -Jackie

  10. Grace - ouch! I've narrowly missed those balls in flip flops walking in the park...I can't imagine stepping on them in bare feet!

    Ben my parents have box elders in their front yard...those trees are dropping twigs nonstop! They feel your pain.

    Karen I think mine make so many babies because the gravel underneath makes it easy for them to sprout. I've got neighbors who have them and they get hardly any sprouts.

    100 years Jackie, wow! I suppose there are some who would just cut it down and not appreciate it's age, good thing it's got you!

  11. Ha. I do love those trees, but I would get cranky about the mess too. I have a bunch of messy trees I need to get out of there. Just today, I was out there looking at that damn box elder, with its leaf litter all over the yard, vowing to have it cut down as soon as I feel stable enough in the income department.

  12. The flowers are like snow :-) Nice picture of the tree.

  13. Megan...cranky is exactly what I was last night when I saw all the garbage that the storm blew into the yard. What a mess!

    Stephanie...standing by them with our black dog she was covered like with snow and trying to catch them in her mouth when they fell, like kids do with snow.

  14. I love your photos! I was in PDX while the cherries were leafing out and I am still struck by how Portland just snows petals in the spring. I saw cars driving around that looked like they were caught in a pink blizzard!

    And, well love/hate relationships are sometimes the most interesting!


  15. K - being a Portlander who does not park in her garage I totally know what you mean about the cars! We had a storm a few nights ago that caused all sorts of petals and leaves to come swirling down!

  16. What you calling a "mess" is a valuable soil amendment and mulch. If you do not relocate the dropped flowers and leaves will decompose on sight and enrich the soil. By "cleaning up" the garden floor your are robbing the tree and the soil of nutrients mulch, soil conditioner, weed and erosion preventive, etc. Why do you consider this heterogeneous native mulch to be unsightly litter and yet would pay a homogenous processed mulch? Is it because you want to encourage the burning of more fossil fuels and spend tax dollars to relocate the organic matter away from your garden instead of allowing it to compost in place to keep the tree and soil healthy, At the very least i hope you have a compost pile. If you chose to adapt a scorched bare exposed earth look (instead of leaving the trees organic matter where it belongs,) because you cling to some outdated aesthetic which is about as good for the earth as foot binding in China or boned corsets in the West were for women's health that is your prerogative.

    1. Wow there Anon, having a bad day?

      What you need to consider here is that I'm not "cleaning up the garden floor" issue is that these trees were planted (not by me) as street trees and as such the flowers fall on the sidewalk and street (as well as our gravel parking strip). So about 60% of the "mess" does not decompose and enrich the soil instead it creates a slick hazard for anyone walking along the sidewalk.

      And nope, no compost pile, I don't have space. I do however participate in my cities curbside pick up of yard waste...and they turn it into perfectly wonderful compost.


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