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soylent green

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I've been watching the little purple flowers on my tree turn green. At first, I thought there were new green flower parts growing beneath or behind the purple bits. Then, as things got really green, it seemed like the purple was falling off or opening up, leaving all the green behind. But then it rained.


Hmmm. The rain always reveals the tree's secrets and this time, the rain made the flowers purple again. Weird. That makes no sense. I decided that since the rain always makes everything on the tree look darker, the flowers still had some purple in them and the rain was just washing out the light green color.

Today, two days later, the green is back. And how!


Woot. Purple gone; green on!


The texture of the flowers has changed a lot too. When they were just out of the buds, they were firm like a koosh ball. Recently they've felt more wispy and flowery. So I thought I'd see what they feel like today now that they're all green.


OMG. It's pollen! THE GREEN IS POLLEN! How did I not see that coming? I was sure the flowers themselves were changing color. But that yellowy-green pollen just brushes right off. And it probably washed off that one day in the rain.

Geez, I hope I'm not allergic to ash tree pollen.

waiting for leaves

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Last week, when we last checked on the leaves of my tree, the little green pistachio tips had just started to open, sending out two tiny green wings.


Two days later, the wings had stretched out so much that the buds looked like little webbed duck feet.


(It occurred to me that this structure - a vertical line in the center with two lines coming out at a 45 degree angle on either side - is the exact same structure of all the branches. It was one of the first things I noticed about my tree and inspired my husband's logo tree drawing.)

Yesterday, the center part of the buds started to uncurl just enough so you could begin to recognize tiny leaves in there.


It looks like three or four leaves huddled together.


You can see a leaf right there in the center. The leaves on the sides look like hands holding it. Beautiful.

And just this morning, in the corner that gets the morning sun, I spotted one bud where the leaves were beginning to separate from each other and unfurl in what looks like a spiral shape.

Yippee! I wonder how many leaves are going to be in there. I wonder how big they'll be. Not too much longer now!

from purple to green

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The flowers on my tree are definitely changing color!


As the tiny purple fingers continue to grow longer, I have been following the emergence of some green under the purple tips.


I was guessing that either the little flower parts were green at the bottom or new parts were growing that were green.


But this morning, I turned over a twig to see the side that I usually can't see, the side that faces the sun in the morning and perhaps gets the most sun.


All green!


So, I guess the green isn't just growing below the purple. In fact, it looks more like the purple was covering the green maybe and is breaking off. Or maybe the purple opens up. You know how if you open a book and put the two covers together in the back, all you see is pages. Is that what's happening? Was the green inside of the purple?

now in color

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After looking at this big gray tree for two months, I'm so thrilled that it is finally starting to have color!

The flower clusters glow almost red in the morning light.


And the sun reflecting off the mossy growth on the bark hints at all the green to come.


The rain reveals deeper hues in the brown buds and pistachio leaves emerging from the twigs.


And the camera lens confirms my suspicion that the purple flowers are turning green.




For more fabulous pictures of trees in early spring bloom, check out this amazing photoblog from a woman following 93 trees for a whole year. Her pictures this month really capture the tiny yet amazing beginnings that make spring so magical. 

seeing green

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While the tips of the twigs on my tree continue to open up and stick out little green tongues, I've begun to notice tiny hints of green elsewhere. 

Check out these buds.


Do you see the little green patch on the underside of the top two flowers? It certainly isn't purple.

Here's another twig.


See how the tiny flower closest to the tip has green in the center? And there's also green on the base of some of the other flowers there. When I spotted this cluster of flowers, I thought it looked like a dusting of green on the flowers. I was wondering of it was dirt or dust on the underside from the street or something so I started turning the branch over and around (gently) to look more clearly at the other sides of these flowers. Guess what I found on the other side.


OMG! That's full on green in there. What is that doing there? Are these turning green? Or were they green and then turned purple?

I went back to my pictures from the weekend before the terminal buds opened and I hadn't even started thinking green yet. I found this picture of a developing flower.


What struck me about this is the color of the tips of the tiny flower petals coming from the buds. Those on the top of the twig have purple tips, but on the bottom, the tips are green. See it? What's that about??

the tipping point

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So, remember my little theory about the tips of the twigs getting longer? I've been taking photos of the tips of a couple of twigs to check and see if there's any change. Here's what happened this week.

The first twig looked like this on April 7th...

and on April 9th...


and yesterday...


WHOA! Hold up! That is GREEN. The bud at the tip opened up. Just since the weekend!

Let's look at twig #2. April 7th...


and on April 9th...


and yesterday, April 12th...


Squeee! More green!

I'd been wondering what those terminal buds were going to do. All the side buds have been opening up for weeks, revealing the pretty purple flowers but the buds on the tips, nothing. And now, it turns out that's where the green was hiding.

Once I realized that something was going on at the tips, I started seeing buds like this everywhere. They're all doing this!


They're like long green tongues coming out.


There seems to be a twist or fold or something through the middle. Is that a super curled up leaf in there??


Wow. Wow. Wow.

wondering about weather

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Almost a month ago, I was wondering what my tree needed to start blooming. Was it merely waiting for more sunlight and less snow? The answer seemed to come after one rare March day of sunshine and non-freezing temperatures, when I saw the first signs of change in the buds on my tree. Springwinter returned (it's a Boston season: spring on the calendar; winter outside) and I concluded that the blossoming would most likely be slow and steady. Then it snowed again. And seemingly miraculously, the buds looked further along the next day. Then we had clouds, wind and rain, and they continued to bloom. And now, the last four days have been crazy warm and sunny (70 degrees yesterday!) and I'm wondering what effect this has had on the buds.

So here's how the buds on one branch looked on April 5th, a full week ago, still in the midst of 40 degree, cloudy days.


Here are the buds from the same branch on April 9th, halfway into our mini heat wave.


And here's how they looked yesterday, after four days drinking in the sun and warmth of spring.


This is a dramatic change in one week. The brown is almost entirely gone. I feel like last week they looked like brown buds with some purple stuff coming out, whereas they now look like bundles of purple flowers bound together with some brown paper. Like a bouquet you might buy in the store.

Here's another branch on April 5th:


And yesterday, April 11th:


What a week for that twig, huh?!

So was all this progress due to the weather? Or was this just the natural progression of the process that started way back on the first day of spring? Was it progressing more slowly until the weather warmed up or is the beginning just slower than this part? I don't know if what I've observed is enough to answer these questions. But I have heard of "forcing" plants and flowers. As far as I know, it's a way of encouraging or tricking the plant to open up and start blooming earlier than it would normally. I think one way of forcing a plant is to give it some of the weather conditions it needs to get started growing again. So perhaps this great week of growth wasn't merely programmed in from the start. Perhaps the weather had the same effect on these buds that it did on most Bostonians this last week: the warmth on our faces and sunshine on our backs managed to coax us, once and for all, out of our winter havens and our weather skepticism. It's okay to come out now. Spring has truly arrived.

two months in the life of a tree

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Every day for two months I've woken up and checked on the tree.


The kids often investigate with me. My little girl likes to use the 'noculators'.

The first thing we notice now when we look out the window these days is how every branch is studded with these rounded, swollen, opening buds.


It's something you probably wouldn't notice down below just walking along the street, but so much has changed up here. For comparison, here's a picture of my twig in the very first week of this blog. You can see how the branches behind appear almost smooth, with the early buds just small bumps.


And, my how those buds have grown! Through the 'noculators' we can see that they are now almost completely open.


This is how they looked in February:


As amazing as this transformation has been so far, we all know that the really dramatic changes are still to come!

purple rain

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The rain is amazing. Once again, it has managed to reveal so much more to me about my twig and the buds than the sun does. Today's rain revealed this:


There's so much purple, the buds look almost like berries!


Here's the bud cluster closest to my window that was one of the first to open and that I've been following in all my updates.  


It is now surrounded by twigs that look like this:


What a transformation from five days ago!

My tree must really like the rain.

growing up

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As I've been watching the progress of the buds on my tree, I've noticed that the bud on the tip of each twig isn't opening. It's just as pointy and as closed as ever. A few weeks ago, I wondered about these terminal buds, speculating that maybe instead of opening up, they were getting longer. I couldn't really tell then, but now I think they just might be. Well, the buds themselves aren't getting longer, but I think the twig might be growing right under that terminal bud. The bud seems to be farther away from its little sidekicks there.

Check out the tip of this twig. This is how it looked over the weekend.


And here's how it looked two weeks ago on St. Patrick's Day.


Well, it's not obvious, but I feel like it has grown a bit.

In order to test this theory, I took baseline pictures of the tips of three twigs. I'll try to take pictures of them regularly so I can really compare.

Here's the tip of the twig closest to my window taken over the weekend.


And here's that same twig tip on March 17th.


Dunno. Maybe. Maybe not.

Here's one more taken yesterday.


And the same twig on March 17th.


Well, it's just a theory!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the changes category.

buds is the previous category.

chestnut is the next category.

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