Spring’s Sweet Tangle

Texas Redbud ~ Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Every spring, a variety of blooming redbud trees abounds in my town’s yards, at the edges of commercial parking lots, and in public gardens. Nicely shaped, well trimmed and well fed, they’re both a dependable sign of spring’s arrival and a colorful addition to the urban landscape.

In the woods, things aren’t always so tidy. This native Texas Redbud is no less colorful but, left to its own devices, it’s wandered a bit among the junipers and oaks. Still, the sight of a blooming tree in the midst of a thicket is enormously charming: presenting a good reason to get off the proverbial ‘beaten path.’


Comments always are welcome.

58 thoughts on “Spring’s Sweet Tangle

    1. What a fun thought! I hear the plant breeders are creating species that are increasingly cold-hardy, so it may come about that Cercis canadensis eventually move to your area.

    1. They’ve been blooming like crazy down here. Even the ones in the IHOP parking lot that have been looking a little sad for the past couple of years are doing well.

    1. I remember your posts showing your trees’ first blooms. They’re so pretty, and such a nice sign of spring. Are your pecans leafing out yet? I passed a couple of pecan orchards today, and the trees still are completely bare.

    1. Despite its delicate appearance, it’s a tough little tree. I take it you have it, too — is it in your yard or at the ditch, or just “around”?

    1. That contrast is what made the image appealing to me. I began by trying to focus just on the redbud, or eliminating all the ‘stuff’ around it, but finally realized the contrast helped to show the redbud’s wildness.

    1. There’s nothing like a spot of color here and there to tide a person over until real spring arrives. I can imagine one of these going very nicely with those blue chairs on your patio!

  1. I like the juxtaposition of the dead branch and the flowers winding their way around it. I occasionally see redbuds in gardens here – they are a lovely sight.

    1. I’m glad you like the way I paired them. I waffled a bit, thinking at first that I should try to minimize the dead limbs. Then I decided that I liked the contrast, too. It certainly is a different sort of view than what shows up in our yards or more formal gardens.

  2. I’ve seen these, but never knew their name. I would not think to look under ‘red’ as they appear lilac and purple to me.

    1. Personally, I think of the flowers as pink or magenta. I do think there’s some color variation in the ones we see in yards and such, thanks to the plant breeders. When I looked up ‘redbuds for sale,’ there were photos of trees showing every color in the pink/purple/lavender/magenta spectrum. Maybe the actual buds on the native trees are more red, leading the first namers in the 1700s or 1800s to come up with ‘redbud’ for a name.

    1. I don’t remember seeing redbuds until I moved to Texas, but that probably was lack of attention on my part. We had apple and cherry blossoms in Iowa — and a lovely shrub we called flowering almond: although I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what that one was. They’re all so pretty and delicate.

      1. I think the shrub you remember may have been Dwarf Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa ‘Sinensis’) hardy in zones 4a-8b. It grows 4-6′ and about 4-5′ wide. What zone are you?

  3. The allure of what’s around the next bend – ah, we are explorers! The past month of intense rain has nudged the landscape into Jack-in-the-beanstalk growth. While trying to navigate grown-over trails, I had to pause and photograph
    this beauty.

    Redbud was always one of those specimens that was prettier in life than when branches were taken inside. The life force seemed to evaporate…

    1. You know, I was thinking today that I don’t remember ever seeing redbud branches brought inside. I suppose someone does from time to time, but I can imagine you’re right about the life force evaporating. Some flowers, like forsythia and lilac, are lovely indoors, but redbud and wisteria resist ‘capture.’

      Today was a day for exploring, and for remembering one of life’s little trade-offs: country roads have less traffic, but country homes often have dogs who define their territory in very broad terms.

        1. No story, thank goodness. A dog defending its herd or its home is one thing, but I never wander far from the car on those roads. The problem dogs are the ones who’ve decided their territory includes the road and anyone passing on it!

          1. Someone taught me here to slowly lower my hand to the ground and pick up a rock.. and even if there is no rock, pretend to do so… and the dog almost always cowers down and backs away. I learned, however, that in the USA, dogs don’t usually have people hurling rocks at them, so the process did not work for me once when I tried it. When jogging it was always a problem…

    1. Do you see them in New Zealand? or Minnesota? Where are you now? I know you’ve been hoping to get back to that wonderful cabin and canoe — has it happened?

      1. We see them here in New Zealand. We’re still here, but have booked flights back for the first time in almost three years, and hope it works out. We are sooo excited!

  4. They are really one of my favorites. I have one in a pot, stunted though I do try and care for it as a dwarf. It’s at least 15 years old, could be, maybe is older. I got it in a giveaway, One year old sprout maybe 6”. Had nowhere to plant it except in a pot. So I did. It declined a little this winter, lost one of its two biggest branches.

    1. A good bit declined this winter. I’m convinced that the big freeze a year ago still is having some effects, although some plants that I thought were kaput have come back in a big way. I’ve been astonished to see the huisache suddenly putting on a new flush of bloom. I found some around Rosenberg today, and there were some fields to the west along 90A that were covered in small gold trees. I’m hoping to find a nice one or two for a photo. I never would have imagined a redbud would do well in a pot, but you’re so good with plants, if anyone could make that happen, it would be you.

      1. I wouldn’t say it’s doing well. It survives And gives me some blooms but they aren’t long lived trees to begin with and even in the ground they lose limbs while sending out new ones elsewhere. But I think you’re right, A couple of things that I thought survived have declined unexpectedly this year, my gardenia and spirea, my azaleas lost all their foliage late last summer for no reason after a big burst of new growth after the arctic blast. They didn’t really bloom but they look good.

        1. Speaking of azaleas, I’ve been surprised to see some around town suddenly blooming, even though it’s well past their usual time. Maybe it takes a couple of cycles for them to settle down into their usual patterns. A week or so ago I made a quick trip to Brazos Bend, and their azaleas were magnificent, although I suspect the ones in the public areas probably have been given special treatment.

  5. A variation on the old saw, “Bloom where you planted.” A lovely shade of cherry pink. Makes me think of cherry vanilla ice cream from our favorite cow (Bluebell). Heard somebody say the other day that it was getting to be ice cream weather, to which I raised a questioning eyebrow — when is it not ice cream weather?

    1. I happened to pass through (actually, around) Brenham yesterday, and thought about that wonderful little factory. I’ve never tried the cherry vanilla, but perhaps I should. Personally, summer begins for me when their southern blackberry cobbler makes its appearance; peppermint is for Christmas, and vanilla bean for any time. You’re right; it’s always ice cream weather.

  6. Nature doesn’t worry about order and chaos rules. You’ve found a nice composition sorting out a bit of the disorder. Redbud offers some of the earliest color we see hereabouts although we still have some waiting before it shows.

    1. Despite our sudden flush of wildflowers, spring isn’t fully here until the pecan trees leaf out, and all of them I’ve seen out in the country still are bare. On the other hand, there’s a riot of colorful chaos in the fields as flower after flower decides it’s time to put in an appearance.

  7. Very nice. It really is a pleasant surprise finding these in the more wild areas, seeing how they work their way into the landscape. That color always feels like a welcome and warm invitation to spring.

    1. I suppose that initially trees like these have been brought to the city from the wild places; reading some of the journals of early Texas naturalists, this is one of the trees I’ve seen mentioned. Even though pink isn’t my favorite color, these trees do shine — partly because there’s so much variation in their color. An artist friend pointed out to me that if you ask ten people to look at the same redbud and describe the color, you’ll sometimes get ten different answers.

  8. Our Redbud has the tiniest of blooms right now, and I can hardly wait until it’s in its full glory! Such a pretty tree … and a good harbinger of Spring. I’ve had to cordon off its trunk though because Monkey has a penchant for gnawing at the bark. Sigh.

    1. We have deer that strip bark off trees, and you have Monkey! I’m not sure I’ve ever known a dog with a fondness for bark, although it may be more common than I’ve realized. Is it just a version of another chew toy for him? Tell him to leave the ‘pretty’ alone!

      1. Linda, I’ve tried. My latest effort is putting up a small fence to surround my Redbud. Thus far, it’s working … but Monkey keeps eyeing it hungrily, and I can tell he’s trying to figure out how to sabotage my barrier!

    1. I spent some time trying to eliminate the old tree — silly me! I finally realized it was the contrast between the trees that had attracted me as well as the redbud’s color. Beyond that, there was no way to photograph the redbud by itself, unless I focused on a single branch and didn’t capture the careless growth of the entire tree.

  9. I am all for prettying up urban locations with trees and flowers of all types.

    Encountering a profusely blooming tree in the wild, especially with tangled branches and multiple textures – well, that is just special.

    1. One of the wild trees I still haven’t seen is the dogwood. I’m sure I’m too late to find it in east Texas, but this redbud is a wonderful consolation prize. Strangely, our huisache are blooming late this year, but we’re lucky with those, too. The areas farther north where they’ve sometimes bloomed extravagantly lost their trees compliments of The Great Freeze.

  10. There’s just nothing like driving secondary roads and catching glimpses of redbuds, dogwood, jasmine, wisteria or magnolia out in the woods, is there?

    1. You’re right — especially about the wisteria. I do love that plant, and it’s blooming now. I’m a little late for photos of it, as the leaves are developing quickly; that makes the bloom details harder to capture. But the fragrance? My goodness, it’s wonderful. Our mountain laurel is another one with beautiful flowers and a sweet fragrance: like grape bubble gum. Truly! By some miracle, I found one of those blooming at the Brazoria refuge this year. I’ve seen the tree in the middle of the butterfly garden for years, and didn’t have a clue what it was. They usually bloom in the hill country, or central Texas. I’ve never seen one in bloom down here.

  11. I’ve often thought trees that flower are kind of an anomaly. As if there aren’t enough standard flowers. I’m not complaining.

    They might have been complaining around here yesterday though. We had an extremely rare April snow, and the spring blossoms were as confused as the rest of us. (It’s all melted now.)

    1. But every tree flowers — it’s just that many of the flowers are so tiny we never notice them. All that springtime oak, cedar, and pine pollen is proof of that (and the bane of allergy sufferers everywhere).
      On the other hand, I don’t know of anyone who’s every made a bouquet of oak branches, which sort of proves your point.

      I’ve often thought that late snows are the best snows. You get a bit of ‘pretty’ with them, but know they aren’t going to last for months. That’s certainly an advantage — and they do provide a little moisture.

  12. That is a beauty with its sweet flowers and twisty branches. What a blessing to have “Nicely shaped, well trimmed and well fed” trees in your neighborhood. There’s a street in mine where the trees were butchered some years ago and have never recovered. I can’t even walk down that street.

    1. Here, it’s the Crepe Myrtles that suffer indignities. They can develop into wonderful trees, but to keep them small and tidy, they often get cut back within an inch of their lives. They survive, but I always feel sorry for them.

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