Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nantucket Spring

I used to believe that spring on Nantucket was the 3rd week of May, followed by summer the first on June. But those were my early years and my eye had not attuned to the subtlety  of this island. Nantucket is a "Zen" visual - subtle is the theme, meditate, look closely, learn to appreciate the small changes, soft coloring of this short grass Prairie that has found a home surrounded by ocean.

This is  Scrub Oak in "bloom' and tender pink leaf, ground cover is Huckleberry is bright spring leaf.

We have several "Springs" on Nantucket.  This weekend we celebrate Daffodil Days - a gracious Garden Club several years back began planting thousands of Daffodils about the roadways - one of the few flowering plants the deer do not eat - and they cheer us in this odd season when the mainland is warming and we stay cool due to ocean temperatures.  As in many places, we gardeners have imported bits of Spring - Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Scilla, English Bluebells etc.  As well as our lawn grasses, and flowering trees - I enjoy almost all of them - Nantucket is a very grey and rather drear place through winter and the color and movement is wonderful.

However - I always keep in mind what I look for as indicators of the real Nantucket Spring - when the Shad bloom!  Shad is the local name given to the Amelanchier species - it blooms at the same time that the Shad ( River Herring) are running - when the fish run upstream to lay their eggs.

We have several varieties on Amelanchier on island - most notably is our very own  Amelanchier nantucketensis  - a State listed species of special concern forms thin shrubby thickets primarily at roadsides.  I moved some a few years ago as part of the Old South Road bike path - wanted to propagate them for backup, but it was a busy season for me and I felt great sending them to New England Wildflowers new nursery knowing they would be well cared for by the pros.  All the transplants have survived.

Our other most visible Shad is the Amelanchier canadensis - larger, tree forms look like clouds that have settled down over the landscape as you drive out the Madaket road looking toward Head of the Plains.  They only last about  a week as storms blow the petals - but it is a beautiful week.

I have several planted on my property so I'm sure to know when the true Nantucket Spring has arrived.

Pictures are now above - a few blogs.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could be there to see the spring in Nantucket. Seems so elegant and beautiful. Here in California it's the usual riot of everything blooming at once.I'm calling this the Pittosporum year as P. tobira is so powerfully fragrant this year. Atchoo!!