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SPRINGY
That white flowering explosion behind us in the farmyard? It's called hägg in Swedish. I didn't know what that was in English, so I looked it up yesterday and turns out it's a bird cherry. They're everywhere now. I can't stop seeing them now that I know what they are. It's like when I got my engagement ring and everyone on the el train suddenly had big sparkly rocks on their fingers. And when I was pregnant, and SO WAS EVERYONE ELSE. It was freaky, man.

I have a major compulsion to know the names of things. It bugs me that there is a bush here with deep pink flower buds on it, and I still don't know its name in either Swedish or English. It's next on my find-out list. I went through much of my life with trees and flowers just a colorful blur around me. Now, they have personalities. They're NAMED. Not all of them, but at least of few of them are on first-name terms now. I remember sitting on the el train in Chicago years ago, whizzing by the city above ground, on the same eye-level as the trees, if they had had eyes, and thinking, I don't know their names. I could pick out maple and maybe oak. So I did something about it. I bought books and looked things up. I carried leaves home and checked them out.

Catalpa, lotus, tulip tree, ginkgo, sycamore, pin oak, hickory, hanging beech, lilac. Before I had a house, I didn't know what a peony looked like. Or a rhododendron. I mean, I had SEEN them, but I didn't know their names. Now I even know that a whole lot of rhododendrons together is called a hell. Very appropriate, if you've ever been in the midst of one.

Don't sit there thinking I was totally ignorant. Even as a child, I knew the basics. I knew their names and had seen their faces, but putting the two of them together wasn't always elementary. And I knew a lot of common flowers, like marigolds and snapdragons and daisies. But I didn't know foxglove or lupine or hollyhocks. Before, so many growing things were just neat names, or pretty flowers, but not at the same time.

Last year, I found out what coltsfoot and cowslip looked like. I know what columbine and snowdrops are now. I recognize plantain and chicory when I see them. It makes walking in the woods so much more satisfying. :)

The last two days have been spring in full sproing here in Sweden. All of the trees have greened. The bushes are camouflaging their branches with sleeves of bright green and budly fingertips. The flowers are appearing at an astonishing rate. Forsythia glows in yellow blasts of color and the cherry trees are pinking.

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Comments

You guys have Forsythia trees/bushes down there? I'm jealous. There are so many varieties of plants/trees here but no Forsythia trees. Many of the plants and birds here I have never seen before. I have to learn what they are in both english and swedish.

Yes, they're everywhere, along with the bird cherry bush/trees. They're like a JOLT of color :) It's funny, so many of the plant and animal species are things I read about in English children's literature (hedgehogs! blackbirds!) but never saw growing up in the States. It's cool to see them all in real life.

If you ever have a fauna and flaura lecture series I would be the first one to sign up--I am totally ignorant on the topic both in my natural habitat and my new one. But isn't wonderful with all the sweet little wildflowers popping up all over and the green buds on the trees, how they glow in the spring sunshine.

I don't know nearly enough to be able to teach anyone! :) You're so right though, it seems like EVERYTHING is glowing right now :D

Did you ever read Beverly Cleary's books? In one of them the main character, Elen Tebbits, ends up going out in the mountains of Oregon with a friend and te friend's family. They see all the rhododendrons in bloom. I read that book way before I knew what a rhododendron was, and when I realized it was just a bush and it was yellow, I was sorely disappointed. I had built it up in my imagination to be a huge beautiful pink and red thing.

Funny, imagination.

I know I've read some of her stuff, but it was a million years ago, and I can't remember much. But I have to tell you rhododendrons aren't just yellow. They come in white, pink, REALLY PINK!, and purple, too. And the bushes can grow to enormous gigundous humongous jungly sizes. You can literally get lost in them, that's why they're called a hell. They have gazillions of them north of here at Sofiero castle outside of Helsingborg...the Rhododendron Festival is the first weekend in June.

REALLY? Wow...I had no idea. Of course, I haven't really pursued rhododendron info too adamantly. That's so cool! No wonder they made a big deal of them in the book.


Oh, but there are huge beautiful red ones and pink ones (white, purple,etc...)

I totally know what you mean, I only know a few names of things. Like the magnolia tree in our front yard but it's always bugged me when I read and they name the foliage and I can't picture it cause I don't know what they are. I'm impressed with your effort to find out, I have the desire but not the motivation.

I love magnolias. I remember one at MSU that I passed on my way to one of my classes, it was SO gorgeous and I didn't know what it was for the longest time. Now I want one in our yard as soon as we get around to buying some trees.

"I have a major compulsion to know the names of things. It bugs me that there is a bush here with deep pink flower buds on it, and I still don't know its name in either Swedish or English. It's next on my find-out list. I went through much of my life with trees and flowers just a colorful blur around me. Now, they have personalities. They're NAMED. Not all of them, but at least of few of them are on first-name terms now. "

I think that many of us grew up without knowing the names of plants or trees. Perhaps our grandparents generation knew (even the uses).

It bothered me a great deal as my children were growing up, to have so few names of living things to pass along (birds too). Then it began to tug on my soul, so I too started the process of learning the names.

Now, I have called into my life people who have studied plants and know the names (not just the common names). Still, I take it slowly and get to know a plant a little bit. My friend spewing names as we walk, seldom makes the name stick. Just as in many other areas of my life, I find myself a beginner at this. (Which is not a bad thing, now that I have accepted it.)

Two years ago, I learned the name of the butterfly bush. I had been admiring them for a long while. Last year my neighbor (she propagates and does landscaping) gave me four of them. It was as if learning the name drew those beauties closer to me in some way.

I've known Rhodies for years (growing up in Oregon, with rhododendron gardens), but I had no idea that a group of them was called a hell.

Keep telling us about springtime. It's delightful.

Just hearing the names doesn't always make them stick, you're right. I have to do the research myself and sometimes writing it down helps. I learned about butterfly bushes a few years ago from my mom, and we've had them in our first house's yard, and we plan to have them again. They're also called budleia, if I remember correctly. How lucky for you to have a gardening neighbor!


Yes, budleia is what my neighbor, and my plant friends call them.

i really admire that!

I can relate to this post. I posted a picture of a shrub in my yard and found out it was a forsythia. Next I found out the two trees in front are some sort of red maple. I plan to keep on learning. Its empowering.

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