Japan House Pond | 04.13.11

Japan House Pond – April 13

From the vantage point where I’ve photographed the Japan House Pond since the beginning of the year, it doesn’t appear that too much has changed in the grove on the north side of the pond. The color in the maples has become more saturated and the grass surrounding the pond is greener, but from a distance it is still hard to tell that spring is well underway.

Prunus × yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry)

To see the true, magnificent changes at Japan House this week, I had to walk backwards about 15 yards and bring the Yoshino cherry trees into focus. I visited the pond a couple of days after the cherries peaked, their blossoms just starting to snow down from their uppermost branches.

Prunus × yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry)

Up close, the Yoshino cherries were still in full glory. The panicled puffs of white flowers clustered tightly along the trees’ branches were highlighted beautifully by the sun shining in a wispy blue sky.

Prunus × yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry)

Pollinators by the hundreds swarmed the trees in the warmth of the noon sun, frenzied by the bounty of nectar on each tree.

Prunus serrulata ‘Shirotae’ (Mt. Fuji Cherry)

A couple of Mt. Fuji cherries waited their turn near the Yoshinos, with pink buds ready to open at any minute.

A weeping cherry and redbud flowered as a beautiful counterpoint to the evergreens surrounding the Japan House pagoda. I’ve always found this view a textbook example of how to use a path to draw the garden visitor’s eye to a focal point in the garden.

Prunus subhirtella var. pendula (Weeping Cherry)

The ruffled pink blossoms of the weeping cherry cascade alternately down the delicate branches of the tree. Although this is an ornamental variety, it’s not hard to imagine ripe cherries at the end of the flower stems.

Prunus × yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry)

More Yoshino cherries were blooming along either side of the path leading to the pond’s northern bank. On the more mature trees, the branches begin to hang towards the ground. This creates a more graceful appearance than the more upright “lollipop” habit of the younger trees.

Taxodium distichum (Baldcypress)

The cherries weren’t the only plants getting into the spring of things. Green foliage has begun to cover the branches of the baldcypress. It’s difficult to comprehend that these tiny green sprouts come from such colossal trees.

Alnus glutinosa (European Alder)

New female catkins are forming alongside new foliage on European Alders. I’ll be interested to see when the male catkins form on these monoecious trees.

Japan House

Japan House is known for its beauty in spring. Looking at the gardens from across the pond is the perfect view to appreciate the landscape.

Viburnum dentatum (Blackhaw Viburnum)

The formerly brown, velvety buds on the Blackhaw viburnum have now emerged as shiny green leaves surrounding an umbel of buds that look like miniature peas.

Prunus subhirtella var. pendula (Weeping Cherry)

Two young weeping cherries on the north side of the pond must be a different variety than the one near the pagoda. The flowers are more tightly spaced on the branches, creating a fuller flowering appearance.

Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

The color in the maples that appears rusty brown from across the pond is more red up close. The trees’ flowers have transformed into the fruit samaras, better known as “helicopters” to children.

Crataegus mollis (Downy Hawthorn)

The downy hawthorn trees have started to break bud. Their feathery sepals are opening to reveal the creamy white petals inside. It won’t be long before the grey tones of the hawthorn bark are replaced by a covering of fragrant white flowers.


Magnolia sp.

Back on the south side of the pond, the blooms of a small magnolia were rapidly starting to fade. I was able to find one unspent flower to photograph, but was disappointed to miss the young magnolias in their prime.

Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion)

Perhaps the most sure sign that spring has arrived at Japan House was the smattering of yellow that dotted the turf at the arboretum. In an alternate universe, perhaps the dandelion is a flower revered for its beauty rather than reviled as an invasive weed.

Now that the growing season is in full swing, I’ve resolved to visit Japan House more often. If I had waited my normal two weeks, I would have missed the glory of the blooming cherries because storms this weekend will likely strip most of the blossoms from the trees. The frequency of my updates from Japan House will have to accelerate to match the rapidly changing story evolving around the pond.

2 thoughts on “Japan House Pond | 04.13.11

  1. My husband keeps bees, and we revere the dandelions –they are the bees first good source of pollen in many places. Our yard becomes a sea of yellow in May, and I love how it looks.


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