Budding Rhododendron

Rhododendron viscosum: Swamp azalea, clammy azalea, honeysuckle azalea

“You must stand still; and then you will see open lips and furtive glances, tender fingers, and raised arms, the fragility of a baby and the rebellious outburst of the absolute will to live and then you will hear the infinite march of the buds faintly roaring….for the silent brown and green little garden of winter has set out on its victorious march.”
The Gardener’s Year, Karel Capek

We visited a wonderful plant sale last weekend. One of my purchases was this native azalea [actually it’s a rhodo (rose) dendron (tree)]. Look at those buds – mimicking a small pine cone.

One says that in Spring, nature turns green – giving attention to the emerging leaf canopy and the prism of blossoms of an awakening land. However, it is not quite true, for it also becomes red with pink and crimson buds. There are buds deep scarlet and rosy with cold; others are brown and sticky like resin; others are whitish like the felt on the belly of the rabbit; they are also violet, or blond, or dark like old leather.

Buds represent the “beginning of the beginning.” The foretaste of what is to come. A transition time of excitement, yet naivete. It is a time when new life is still growing – yet still needs protecting – but, is daily being nudged out to embrace and give life. They are the “pin feathers” of plants – bringing the colored canopy for a still naked land – a land that cannot survive without its rainbow shield.

Nature, as in humanity, provides suitable devices for the protection of these tender buds. Many of them have scaly leaves, the so-called bud scales, to protect them. Some have leaf bases that often act as sheaths to protect them.

As parents, as supportive friends, as teachers, as spouses and partners – we all do that, don’t we? We nudge the new beginnings for the people we care about – while still maintaining a protective, supportive distance – albeit, finding that “sweet distance spot” is sometimes hard.

Who is budding in your life? How are you supporting?