The Darling Buds Pt 3
It's the flowering trees that really catch my eye (and sometimes take my breath away) in Nanaimo in the Spring. In earliest April they are already covered with pink buds, itching to burst...
thumbnail Of all the Spring blooms, it's the flowering trees that really catch my heart for some reason. This Spring they blossomed almost all at once, the early trees delayed by the lingering cold and the later ones hastened by the sudden extremes of warmth. By early April the buds were just jittering with eagerness, swollen and starting to show little hints of petal...

thumbnail ... and in sheltered locations with direct sunlight they open early, painting random splashes of pink on the otherwise rather winter-weary city streets.

thumbnail Across the street from Jon's house, a neighbour has successfully espaliered an apricot (!) on a South-facing wall. It bears, too -- an achievement in this climate.

thumbnail Mid-April... let the games begin! The ornamental plums (or are they cherries?) go off like popcorn.

thumbnail This is the full tree size of a flower -- an azalea? a magnolia variant? -- that we more often see in shrub size around here. It's blazing white and very showy; the display doesn't last long and this year it peaked around mid April.

thumbnail Magnolia trees are familiar to me from Central California and I was surprised to see that they thrive here; this is only one of several in the neighbourhood and many in town.

thumbnail I am not sure what this is -- it looks a little quince-like but I didn't examine the plant closely. Just another patch of colour; the whole town is painted with splotches of pink, magenta, yellow, white...

thumbnail ... the locals call this a Monkey Tree. It looks like an ancient species.

thumbnail A weeping plum? whatever it is, it's stunning; it graces the otherwise artless front yard of a very ordinary small house in an ordinary working-class neighbourhood. I almost wanted to fall to my knees and worship the darned thing the first time I walked by it. Exquisite. Breath-taking.

thumbnail There's a kind of silvicultural cynicism at work in planting these lovely flowering plums next to the PetroCanada fuel dump, or so it seems to me. They are stunning; and their backdrop is giant gas tanks, chainlink and barbed wire. Across the street, a truck and SUV dealership. They bloom valiantly despite their depressing surroundings.

thumbnail A forsythia viciously cropped, blooms defiantly.

thumbnail Another of the blowsy, glaring white azalea (or is it magnolia) trees that stand out so in early Spring against the gray-brown of the bare deciduous majority.

thumbnail I suspect this is an almond or some kind of nut tree. It thrives on a sad bit of embankment above the waterfront promenade.

thumbnail I have no idea what it is, but it's eye-catching on a gray, cool day.

thumbnail By mid-April, the buds have popped and the waterfront trees (even those without optimal sun exposure) are well into bloom.

thumbnail I've always liked the form of this particular tree which reminds me of conventional Chinese paintings.

thumbnail Swy-a-lana Lagoon is briefly graced by a spectacular bloom of ornamental cherry (or is it plum?)

thumbnail Near the Bastion, a gorgeous and venerable cherry (I'm pretty sure) tree outshines the cruddy corporate architecture all around it, effortlessly beautiful.

thumbnail For a couple of magic weeks, I walk downtown under fairy canopies...

thumbnail ... and barren, unfriendly urban squares are transformed.

thumbnail A mirrored facade reflects the transient glory.

thumbnail A local family-owned eatery never looks more enticing than at this moment of the year.

thumbnail The bloom is incredibly profuse; the eye just can't encompass it all.

thumbnail At an ugly, pedestrian-hostile intersection, sheer gorgeousness briefly outweighs bad urban form and lousy architecture; downtown is beautiful.

thumbnail I wander around just staring, trying to fill my brain with this wonder before it fades.

thumbnail Less showy than the formal plantings is the native dogwood (the official provincial flower of BC); big flat white flowers with pale green hearts, on big serious trees. They don't look like much in a photograph, but to the eye they stand out like trees still snow-covered, bright and startling. They bloom in mid/late April and into May.

thumbnail Maples trail fragile little red catkins.

thumbnail In Jon's back yard the elderly cherry tree is in full bloom by late April...

thumbnail ... and the apple trees are finally starting.

thumbnail The backyard is briefly a paradisaical bower... for just a week or two.

thumbnail In the park by Swy-a-lana Lagoon, the perfect combination of blossom and shade makes this park bench seem like a delectable retreat.

thumbnail Nice, eh?

thumbnail May 1st -- dogwood in full glory.

thumbnail Dogwood, a closer view...

thumbnail ... and dogwood as a landscape feature -- big puffballs of paleness. The BC Ferries used to have a stylised dogwood blossom on their stacks, until some bright soul in public relations decided to design a new, improved, totally corporate-looking and of course sleekly ugly logo.

thumbnail By early May the grass is really taking off, soft and lush; this public park on the waterfront is an ideal "sit in the shade" spot with a fine view of the boat basin.

thumbnail Strictly speaking it isn't flowering, but this Japanese maple might as well be a flower...

thumbnail ... it's the brightest thing for miles.

thumbnail Another big dogwood. And now the season of flowering trees is winding down... pink hawthorn is just coming out, and that will be pretty much the end of the show. The arbutus (madrone to Western US residents) are blooming very circumspectly, making little fuss. From now on it's a symphony of greens in the tree canopy.