In winter, when the majority of the hardwood trees have lost their leaves, I am always fascinated to discover just how much Mistletoe there is hiding in those trees. During the summer the Mistletoe can hunker behind the blanket of leaves that cover the trees and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but once those leaves have fallen, suddenly it is exposed, and stands out a little like a pimple on a prom queen’s forehead after the sweat of a couple of “Electric Slides” has melted off the three inches of concealer.
The same phenomena happens in the Spring with the Carolina Jessamine and Wisteria vines. For the most part they are invisible, clambering up trees all over Eastern North Carolina minding their own business and keeping themselves to themselves. Then along comes Spring and first the Carolina Jessamine blooms, cloaking trees and shrubs with blankets of sweet smelling yellow blossoms screaming their presence to the world before falling off the radar after a few weeks like a Twitter hashtag.
Shortly thereafter the Wisteria does the same thing, suddenly dragging the over-the-top Mardi Gras costume out of the closet and bounding into the limelight, commanding the stage with drifts of purple blooms that fill the very air with their heady scent for a few weeks until the vines stuff the dress back into the closet to once again blend back into their surroundings.
Come Autumn it is the turn of the Sweet Autumn Clematis to perform the same appearing and disappearing act. All summer long the vines have been stealthily climbing trees without so much as a second look from gardeners such as myself until suddenly there are white fragrant blooms everywhere and the Sweet Autumn Clematis gives away it’s location.
I am sure there are many other examples of this, although some, like Trumpet Vine for instance, are not quite so clever at hiding their location, and therefore it is not quite such a surprise when they bloom. I am delighted with them all of course because they provide much needed nectar for the pollinators of the world, who, as we are all learning, need as much help as they can get.