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Rose Trees and Pinxterblooms

Chapman's RhododendronRhododendron minus var. chapmanii

Springtime is always a wonderful time to visit your local botanical garden, park, or arboretum. While there may be an unending succession of blooming flowers in the spring, it is almost a ritual in some areas to visit the gardens when the azaleas are blooming. Possibly the most renowned azalea gardens are found on the plantations surrounding Charleston, South Carolina. After enjoying the azalea spectacle at Middleton Plantation, Magnolia Plantation, and Cypress Gardens, many of the crowds proceed to Summerville, a town just outside of Charleston, where my parents lived. For one or two weeks each year, this small town swells in size as thousands of people come from all over the United States to see the azaleas that grace the old houses and gardens of "Flower Town."

Today azaleas figure prominently in the landscapes of gardens throughout the United States. A walkway in the Arboretum at the University of Washington in Seattle meanders through a breathtaking collection of red, pink, and white azaleas. Our National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., has a glorious hillside covered by azaleas. While the relentless heat of central and south Florida's long hot summers precludes the inclusion of azaleas in most people's yards, they are still a crowd-pleaser in many of Florida's public gardens. Bok Tower, Cypress Gardens, and Maclay Gardens are just some of Florida's gardens which have imposing plantings of azaleas.

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The Tulip Tree

Tulip PoplarLiriodendron tulipifera
The Tulip Poplar's leaves offer wonderful color in the autumn.
The tulip-tree, high up,
Opened, in airs of June, her multitude
Of golden chalices to humming-birds
And silken-winged insects of the sky. William Cullen Bryant, The Fountain

Poem to the Magnolia Grandiflora

Majestic flower! How purely beautiful
Thou art, as rising from thy bower of green,
Those dark and glossy leaves so thick and full,
Thou standest like a high-born forest queen
Among thy maidens clustering round so fair,—
I love to watch thy sculptured form unfolding,
And look into thy depths, to image there
A fairy cavern, and while thus beholding,
And while thy breeze floats o'er thee, matchless flower,
I breathe the perfume, delicate and strong,
That comes like incense from thy petal-bower;
My fancy roams those southern woods along,
Beneath that glorious tree, where deep among
The unsunned leaves thy large while flowercups hung!Christopher Pearce Cranch, Poem to the Magnolia Grandiflora