Friday, June 15, 2012


At the edge of the little copse behind the house blooms a catalpa. Surrounded by homely black walnut trees, with wild raspberry bushes and nettles at its feet, the catalpa's large leaves and orchid-like blossoms strike a rather exotic note.

Though tree-like in size and growth, catalpas (or catawbas) are flowering plants of the trumpet vine family, and are native to warm temperate regions of North America. So how did they get to Wisconsin? According to Wikipedia, they "have been widely planted outside their natural ranges as ornamental trees for their showy flowers and attractive shape". (Lucky for me!)

Catalpa blossoms are frilly and feminine in the extreme, often mounded on the leaves like dancers' skirts tossed down in a frothy pile. 

Creamy-white ruffled petals, speckled and striped with plum, and daubed with pumpkin-y gold, issue a sweet standing invitation to any and all interested honey-bees.

Many of the leaves are larger than my hand - which somehow adds to the fairy-tale quality of this enchantingly alien plant.

While the foliage of other trees darkens and grows heavy with summer, the catalpa retains its bright fresh green until autumn...

...and forms a most welcome part of the view from the porch where I sit and eat my breakfast.

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  1. Your own personal, enchanted forest...I now have an image of you draped in some medieval frock & tall hat, complete with billowing wonderful!

  2. I've never seen anything like this before. It's beautiful!

  3. What beautiful blossoms! And the leaves are amazing.
    If I were a tiny fairy I would love to sleep in one of those.

  4. Interesting, never heard of a catalpa before. The leaves are very impressive. Are the flowers fragranced?

  5. Its so beautiful, wonder if it would thrive in our area? Any ideas Mrs Thrifty Household?

  6. What a beautiful tree!

    Love the notion of your having an enchanted forest ;D

  7. Gorgeous! I know that they grow in the south, but I've never seen one.

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  10. That is a beautiful vine! Wow! Such big leaves. Nature is magnificent.

    You would think with all the sunshine here, Vitamin D deficiency wouldn't be a problem. But the women are all covered up. And during the summer months, most folks completely change their schedules so that sleep the day away and go out at night. I've been here 17 years and have never changed my schedule nor have I allowed my kids to do so. We all go to bed early, regardless the time of year. I am definitely getting my Vitamin D with all the walking I've been doing. Hubby and I went again this evening. :)

    Hope you are having a great day! Tammy

  11. I am so amazed at the plants and trees you know!! I love this Catalpa tree!! It is so beautiful!! I'm going to be on the look out around here and see if they grow in our area. I'm pretty sure I've never noticed any and I think I would remember those flowers because they are marvelous!!

  12. We had a couple of catalpa trees in our yard when we were kids, and we played with the flowers (made them 'talk,' sort of like snapdragon blooms), and used the leaves for plates and the 'cigars' that come later for utensils in our games of house. Love your description of the coloring of the flowers - you've given me a new appreciation of them.

  13. And now I'm wondering if this is the same kind of tree I had at my townhome years ago; does it grow long, narrow green bean-like seed pods? If so, this is what I want to put in my current yard. Mine was just a baby when I bought the townhome, and it was close to 15 feet tall six years later when I sold the house. Such lovely flowers and fast-growing shade!!!


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