Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of America’s greatest thinkers in the 19th century, proclaimed “The earth laughs in flowers.” It is entirely possible to believe that when you wander the Dunn in April. The new blooms announce their delight with an unencumbered joy. Unlike the rest of us rain weary citizens they pop up fresh after a shower.
As I wander the grounds I am amused by the effect that the ephemeral blooms have on my disposition. They turn me, a regular in the Gardens, into a visitor, arresting my travels with ease. I stop often to draw breath at some new, unexpected and proud beauty - like the common Bergenia ‘Eric Smith’ thrusting its bright pink blooms in the air looking like Cinderella dressed for the ball.
The camellias have joined the visual chorus that marks April. Camellia japonica ‘Tama Ikoi’ is also springing pink – with a promise of a clean finish. Shake this sweetheart at the end of the blooming period and the petals jump off clean. On the ground, in the bass section of the April chorus, if you will, is Hacquetia epipactis. It is a small yellow flower in he shade of the Woodland Trail that starts off a stark, acid yellow and ages to a charming chartreuse - two for the price of one. How is that for horticultural generosity?
Mostly the blooms are so delightful they take your heart as intensely as a true love and prevent you from seeing much else. The pictured Trillium ovatum pulled this trick with ease. There it was in my visual frame, offset by foliage and daffodils looking glorious. The wire hoop in the front that jangles the eye was invisible at that moment the picture was taken. The earth may laugh in flowers but as I looked at the resulting image the flowers were laughing at me and rejoicing in their ability to render me incompetent with a camera.
Still, if the earth laughs in flowers, birds surely sing among them. At a recent bird watching class with naturalist, Woody Wheeler, 23 different species were identified in the Gardens, among them a Song Sparrow. This bird was busy declaring his ownership of his territory and likely working on attracting a mate. Fortunately, it does not take particular skills to recognize how happy the birds are. All it takes is a quiet stand among the blooms to hear their joy. (For those particularly interested in the birds identified check out the list.)
Coming up soon, Sunday, April 23rd, is an opportunity to see the small part of the Earth called Dunn Gardens laughing in flowers, not to mention hearing the birds singing as well. From 2-4 pm visitors are invited to wander the grounds and enjoy the blooms. In particular, the rhododendrons will be in full glory. Come and let yourself laugh with the flowers and perhaps sing with the birds. Everyone will understand if you do.