Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bonnie's Flowering Dogwood

My neighbor Bonnie lives in a house that sits where her mama and daddy's home used to be, at the highest point of the glen. She has an unobstructed view of the setting sun and some of the most wonderful wildflowers I've ever seen, and she also has this magnificent dogwood tree that she says is a descendent of the old dogwood she remembers when she was growing up.

She has often told me, "I would never want to live anywhere else."

My family moved so much when I was young that it is hard for me to imagine what it must be like to be rooted so deeply to one place. I am rooted here, now, by love—but that's not the same as loving a place you've grown up in, a place where you and your parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins once, twice, and thrice removed all have history going back probably hundreds of years.

If I had to choose them, I'd choose two places where I felt rooted growing up. When I was very young, my paternal grandparents' house in Arlington, Texas, was a stable center for family vacations. When I was a little bit older, my roots shifted to my great-aunt and uncle's old house in Orlando, and then to my parents' house there.

As an adult, I've lived in North Central Florida longer than I've lived anywhere else—but the roots I've put down here are very shallow compared to those of my neighbors.

The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is described in Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants as "One of northern Florida's most attractive and well-loved trees...a showy indicator of spring." Bonnie's dogwood is certainly putting on a show this spring!

If you live anywhere in the eastern U.S. from Massachusetts to Central Florida and west to Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas, you've probably seen this tree and know what a welcome sight its flowers can be after a long, cold winter.

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