"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Apricot Blooms and a Ladybug

Apricot Blooms and a Ladybug

From The Plant Hunters by Alice M. Coats:

“In 1891-3, James Harry Veitch (1868-1907), elder son of the John Gould Veitch who had died [of tuberculosis] so tragically young, made a world tour, starting in November with Ceylon and India. The first part consisted of a stately progress from one botanic or public garden to another, each of which he mercilessly describes down to the very bandstand; he does not seem to have taken one wild flower in his hand for the first six months of his travels…. After visiting Java and Singapore, he sailed in March 1892 from Hong Kong to Yokohama. In Japan he became much more enterprising and emancipated, and had his first experience of collecting in the wild.

“After looking about him in Yokohama and visiting some local gardens, James Veitch went to Tokio, and was somewhat dismayed by the quantity and extent of the local nurseries, more numerous even than those of Flanders or Holland. The cherries were in bloom, and he was greatly impressed by them, especially the famous mile of trees at Mukojima; though he makes the surprising statement that ‘the species is known scientifically as
Prunus mume; it is really an Apricot’….”

From “Little Rain” by Elizabeth Madox Roberts in Time for Poetry, compiled by May Hill Arbuthnot:

When I was making myself a game
Up in the garden, a little rain came.

It fell down quick in a sort of rush,
And I crawled back under the snowball bush.

I could hear the big drops hit the ground
And see little puddles of dust fly round.

A chicken came till the rain was gone;
He had just a very few feathers on.

He shivered a little under his skin,
And then he shut his eyeballs in.

Even after the rain had begun to hush
It kept on raining up in the bush.

One big flat drop came sliding down,
And a ladybug that was red and brown

Was up on a little stem waiting there
And I got some rain in my hair.


The photos below are blossoms from a tree I believe is an apricot tree, though I’ve never been completely sure of my identification. It’s definitely a member of the genus Prunus, which includes a variety of spring-blossoming shrubs and trees whose undifferentiated common names — variations of cherry, plum, apricot, almond, and peach, often modified by “Japanese” or “Chinese” — create a lot of confusion in the plant identification world. Until I learn otherwise, I’m going to stick with calling these flowers apricot tree blossoms — mainly because this tree is unique among many of the blooming fruit trees I find at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens, and I can typically identify cherry, plum, and peach blossoms on other similar trees.

It’s only partly apparent from my photographs, but the tree’s branches — unlike typical upright flowering fruit trees or shrubs — hang almost like vines from a central trunk structure that’s about fifteen feet high. It may have been cultivated to grow this way — shaped over the years to be reminiscent of some bonsai — and its general “design” reminds me of a fleur-de-lis waterfall or fountain or a sparse version of a weeping willow. The individual branches are thin and pliable, waving to match the wind flow of even the slightest breeze. And, as it happens, there are variations of apricot and cherry trees called weeping apricots or weeping cherry trees whose appearance is very similar.

The flower clusters at this stage were quite small, and I didn’t realize at first that I had a ladybug posing in some of the photos. The first five shots below show the ladybug’s travels along one of the blossoms, just before I got a little too close and it opened its wings and twizzled away.

Thanks for taking a look!

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