Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spring: blink and you'll miss it

Tree peony
Tree peony (unknown cultivar)

Spring has finally come to Washington, DC after a long, cold, and snowy winter.  An unknown cultivar of tree peony--one of the very few plants remaining in my garden that was planted by the previous owners--exemplifies everything I love and hate about spring here: absolutely glorious but all too short-lived.  We seem to go from winter to summer with just a week or two of spring in between.

This year the tree peony gave me a surprisingly long-lived display of about 4 days, but it was still sad to come home from work today and find it already finished.   Most years I'm lucky to enjoy it for 2 days before the flowers are spoiled by either rain or a day in the 80's.  One year it hit 90 degrees, and the flowers literally opened and withered on the same day.  My clump of herbaceous peonies will be blooming in another week or two, and will be likewise short-lived (and to add insult to injury, will flop all over the place).

Spring in DC is not only short, but fast.  Flowers that lasted a week or two in upstate New York last a couple of days here, and the spring blooming sequence that was spread over two months is compressed into a few short weeks.  Columbineirisespeonies and then summer slaps you in the face.

Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is starting to fade, and the bearded irises are about to burst open.   I gave up on siberian irises, one of my great loves, because like the tree peony they lasted just a few days in this climate.  But I still love the spring-blooming perennials and keep a few of them in my garden.  I suppose I'll never completely shake myself free of my upstate New York roots, and I'll enjoy these reminders of my childhood while I can.  In no time at all, we'll be complaining about the heat and the humidity.

Bleeding heart
Bleeding heart, Lamprocapnos (Dicentra) spectabilis


  1. Interesting to hear how short spring can be there. Enjoy it while it lasts!

    1. Yes, spring seems to fly by here! In fact it's more or less over as the heat, humidity, and summer thunderstorms have already arrived!