Page 16 THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – FriDAy, JUnE 7, 2024 Saugus Gardens in the Summer Here’s what’s blooming in town this week to make your walks more enjoyable By Laura Eisener W armer days have brought out new flowers, and the landscape is full of blossoms whether you look up into the forest branches, at the ground beneath your feet, or anywhere in between. Irises continue to bloom, and Susan Bishop called to tell me about the beautiful scene at the Saugus Senior Center where irises are making an unforgettable display. Yellow bearded irises (Iris germanica and hybrids) and dark purple Siberian irises (Iris sibirica) bloom around the flagpole, with more elsewhere near the building. Anyone sitting on the benches in front can relax and enjoy the lovely scent of these blossoms this week. Clover is blooming in lawns all over town, and the honey-scented blossoms are very appealing to bumblebees and honeybees. White clover (Trifolium repens) is the species most commonly planted in lawns, as it is short and can be mowed. This European plant is so common as to be taken for granted by many people, but it is an extremely important crop as fodder for livestock, especially cattle, and is widely used in agriculture as a cover crop and a “green manure.” Many members of the legume family (Fabaceae) have nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots, which can improve the health of soil where these plants grow. For this reason, the popularity of planting clover in lawns is growing. Saugus resident and Trader Joe’s crew member Monique Todd says that white clover is one of her favorite flowers. She noticed that some white clover actually has pale pink blossoms. Irises blooming at the Saugus Senior Center provide fragrant and colorful surroundings for benches at the front entrance. (Photo courtesy of Laura Eisener) The flowers of black locust can be seen in the branches of many trees near Route 1 this week. (Photo courtesy of Laura Eisener) Clover can grow in much poorer soils than most lawn grasses, but it is not especially drought tolerant. The summer of 2022 was tough on clover, but the rainy weather of 2023 helped it spread and bloom prolifically this year. If you look closely at a head of clover flowers, you will find it is made up of many tiny blossoms arranged in a somewhat spherical shape. Most of the leaves will have a trefoil, or three-leaflet, arrangement. Occasionally you may be lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, or rarer still, one with five or more leaflets. It will bloom most of the summer and can be found in many places: grassy areas along the side of the road, parks and playing fields and lawn areas in general. Also fairly common in lawns and fields is red clover (Trifolium pratense), which has deep pink or purplish flowers, rather than what I would call red. It is taller than white clover, and the leaflets are somewhat narrower. It has similar attributes Princess tree is stunning with its light purple flowers followed by large heart-shaped leaves. (Photo courtesy of Laura Eisener) White clover blooms in the grass near Route 1 with some occasional pale pink blossoms on older plants. (Photo courtesy of Laura Eisener) This fringe tree on Lynn Fells Parkway has graceful white clusters of blossoms. ((Photo courtesy of Laura Eisener) as a supplier of nitrogen and animal food. This species is also from Europe and Asia, but both were probably brought to North America as animal food by early settlers, and both have readily naturalized in sunny open spaces. If it’s red clover you prefer, there’s quite a lot of this species blooming on the Walnut Street “clover leaf” interchange as you head down from the Walnut Street overpass onto Route 1 South across from the Adam Hawkes sign. If you look up into the woods in many areas near Route 1, you will see another member of the legume family (Fabaceae) blooming in branches overhead: the hanging white blossoms of black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia). This tree was once planted for its strong, rot resistant wood and as a fast-growing ornamental tree. Although it is a North American native, it has crowded out some local species and its sale is now prohibited in Massachusetts. Another white flowering tree with gracefully drooping blossoms is the fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), which is a small tree or large shrub, depending on whether it is growing with a single trunk (tree) or several (shrub). As a street tree, it is planted on Lynn Fells Parkway, and the fringelike narrow petals bloom just before or as the leaves emerge. They are North American members of the olive family (Oleaceae), which includes such familiar ornamentals as lilacs, privet, ash trees and forsythia. A tree unusual in Massachusetts is just finishing up its bloom this week on Forest Street. Known as princess tree or foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa), it produces abundant light blue tubular flowers, shaped a bit like the blossoms of foxglove (Digitalis spp.) It is more familiar farther south, where in some states this native of China has become invasive. Here in the north this tree is very seldom seen, and it is breathtaking when in bloom. Editor’s Note: Laura Eisener is a landscape design consultant who helps homeowners with landscape design, plant selection and placement of trees and shrubs, as well as perennials. She is a member of the Saugus Garden Club and offered to write a series of articles about “what’s blooming in town” shortly after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was inspired after seeing so many people taking up walking.

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