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Five Reasons I Love My Mume

These blooms were buds that survived snow and nine degree temperatures,

I am a big fan of the Japanese apricot (Prunus mume).

My trees are the ‘Peggy Clarke’ variety.  They sport deliciously fragrant pink flowers as early as December here.  They flower for a month or six weeks.

With record low temperatures this year, I have had intermittent blooms since mid January.  The open blooms did not survive the snow or the single digits.  The buds, however, hunkered down and then popped open as soon as the ice was gone.

This tree is one tough cookie.  The mume in my old garden was crushed beneath a giant pine during Hurricane Katrina.  After the pine debris was removed and all the damaged wood was pruned, the mume was little more than a stump.  The tree regenerated from the trunk and scaffold branch stubs into a nice specimen.

This Japanese apricot regenerated from a stump after Hurricane Katrina.

Mume flowers are particularly lovely.  They are a clear bright pink and are borne on bare green twigs.  They look like cake decorations and are a wonderful addition to winter flower arrangements.

On warm winter days I like to stand beneath the tree and just inhale.  The floral scent is intoxicating – sweet with a hint of cinnamon.

Just this year as I was basking in the mume scent, I noticed a persistent droning buzz coming from the blossoms overhead.

I investigated and there were a lot of honeybees foraging on the mume.  After I began paying attention I realized that every day (weather permitting) the mume was full of honeybees.

Mume blooms look like lovely pink cake decorations to me!

I also noticed that my own little worker bees were returning to their hives with pollen baskets full.  Click on this link to see a short video I made of  Honeybees on Japanese Apricot

I’ve always loved my mumes because they bloom for a long time in a season when floral color is lacking.   I’m appreciative that they are tough, fragrant and lovely in a vase.

And now I have yet another reason to love my mumes.  Their fragrance beckons to my queens – Elizabeth, Latifah and Maria – and the worker bees come forth and return to the hive loaded with pollen.

And there you have it – Reason #5.  The mumes feed my honeybees in winter.   That, my friends, is really special!

 

 

The Party’s Over…

The tallest stems in this arrrangement were pilfered from my waning Japanese apricot.

One thing I am really enjoying about blogging is that I’m leaving a record in cyberspace that recounts my garden events.

On Monday (March 1), I made this arrangement for my bathroom.  I used some flowering quince and Japanese apricot branches, a leafy stalk of Chinese mahonia and a single tazetta daffodil stem.

This arrangement was the last appearance of my Japanese apricot (Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’) in a vase this year.  Her flowers are waning like the moon.  Their demise was hastened by our recent rains.

I’m sad to see her blossoms go but I was able to go back in the blog and find my first mention of Miss Peggy this year.  On January 17, I described a flower arrangement I made that contained mume branches with sassy pink buds.

According to my math, that means that I had the joy of interacting with a blooming Japanese apricot for over 6 weeks.  I’m not sure how many arrangements I made during that interval.  I would probably estimate that I made “a gracious plenty” as we say in the South.

I do know that her tiny dried flowers are scattered around various locations in the house like pink confetti.  I am almost reluctant to remove them.  But… it has been an exceptionally good run and all parties have to end.

Mardi Gras Mume


 

The lovely Peggy Clarke has donned her beads for Mardi Gras.

I’ve been admiring the beautiful and fragrant Japanese apricot (Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’) blossoms in my garden for a couple of weeks now.

Peggy Clarke has continued to bloom without damage even though we’ve had snow and nights in the low 20’s.

I’ve filled all my vases with her flowering branches at least three times.

When I turn onto my street, I can see her glimmering like a mirage in the winter landscape almost a quarter mile away.

She’s quite showy and is such a trooper.  So… I decided to honor her today by draping her limbs with some Mardi Gras finery and doing a photo shoot.

She looks quite fetching and I can verify that she definitely smells better than Mardi Gras!

Carpe diem???

A vase of Japanese apricot branches enhances and perfumes the bathroom.

Today it was chilly and very humid.  I set about to work my way down a list full of errands and chores.  When I had almost finished the task-list, I realized that I had yet to clean house or work on a landscape drawing that has been on my board for far too long.

So… I took the dogs for a walk, picked a few greens for a stir fry and began gathering branches of Japanese apricot (Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’) for my vases.

I realize that most people clean the house and then add a flower arrangement as a finishing touch.  I, on the other hand, make flower arrangements to avoid cleaning the house.

When all was said and done, I had a wall vase full of mume over the kitchen sink and a large exuberant bunch of mume in a tall vase on my bar.  And last, but not least, a tasteful and graceful vase full of mume on my toilet!

Some might say that I went a little overboard with the mume.   But I know from experience that the flowers are as ephemeral as they are beautiful.  Every year, when the last blossoms have shattered and the ground is confettied with pink petals, I regret that I did not spend more quality time amongst the mume.

So today I’ll be contented that the faint fragrance of mume is drifting through my house and that at least I cleaned the air.

More Mume Please

Japanese apricot is my favorite small tree. It smells wonderful.

It’s nasty – rainy and cold today.

I took care of household chores but I kept looking out the window at my Japanese apricot (Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’).  This lovely small tree is at my rental house next door.  It is about 15′  tall and in full bloom right now.  On a warm day, the sweet cinnamon scent of the flowers wafts through the garden.

Many of the cherry relatives are short lived and kind of wimpy.  The Japanese apricot seems tougher than the norm.  My oldest tree was broken and maimed during Hurricane Katrina.   After pruning off the most damaged growth, only a short trunk and scaffold branch stubs were left.  I decided to cut it down but when the time came, I just couldn’t do it.  So I let nature take its course.  The tree has now recovered beautifully and is also about 15′ tall.

It may be rainy and nasty but I’m grateful that my vases are full of mume.

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