I made a brief visit to the gardens today. The weather was beautiful, there were 4 weddings (hopefully, no funeral) and a camera club outing, so Leu Gardens was buzzing. There are some lovely things coming into bloom which I had missed last year, some very pretty cherry trees and the gorgeous American Fringe Tree, Chionanthus Virginicus.
It is also known by other picturesque names, Old Man’s Beard, or Grancy Gray Beard. It’s so dainty and had a light scent which reminded me very much of cow parsley.
Donald Culross Peattie in “Trees of Eastern and Central North America” describes it in his best lyrical prose.
“Only a little tree at its best… the Fringe tree is as gracile and feminine seeming as any that grows beside the rushing stream or climbs the warm slopes of the Blue Ridge under the shelter of sturdier growths. Close relative of the useful and mighty Ashes, kin to the fruitful Olive, the Fringe tree is the little sister of the family. If it is of no economic importance it contributes to the higher things of life (ahh.. how lovely) It is a raving beauty when in mid- spring it is loaded from top to bottom with the airiest, most ethereal yet showy flowers boasted by any member of our northern sylva. “
I thought how nice it was to be reminded that we do need some things in life that just make us feel happy, without actually being essential to our survival. William Morris’ suggestion to have only things around us that are beautiful or useful is a good rule. Ideas of use and beauty however do vary!
I would love to paint this pretty tree sometime, but today I was looking for some more colourful croton leaves, this time Pinnochio, Zanzibar, and Mammey.