Ok, breathe. Write. Seeds to sow, cuttings to pot, an immense garden to hack and saw and haul. Its sunny and warm, its black as night and spitting sleet, its Puget squalls and double rainbows, its March and madness.
Two interesting plants have blossomed for the first time here, and my personal histories with both are intertwined. In northeast Sichuan in 2003 we came upon the remnants of fallen foliage in late October that could only have come from Sassafras tzumu, from a very small genus of trees with only three species worldwide; the American species, S. albidum, being very common (yet very beautiful) in the Northeast.
Sassafras tzumu is larger in all aspects- stature, foliage and flower- and has proven thus far to be a gratifying species for us in our garden; according to keen plantsmen who have grown it in their gardens of Pennsylvania, it has proven perfectly hardy.
We returned to the area of Sichuan in 2004, much earlier in the season, hoping to find this species in fruit. Indeed we were rewarded for our efforts that year through the offering of several dozen seed harvested from the base of specimens which rose to 75′ or more, still colored richly in folial tints of burgundy and orange.
Curiously enough, growing amidst the Sassafras were specimens of a near dead-ringer in regards to foliage. Lindera obtusiloba var. heterophylla- also in the Lauraceae or Laurel Family, has, as does Sassafras, un-lobed, uni-lobed and bi-lobed foliage on the same individual. The stature of the Lindera however is much less, rising to only 20′.
Both species have blossomed for the first time this year, eight years after collecting and sowing their seed. These inaugural flowers are always like receiving postcards sent from long ago, when life as we then remembered was much different, reminding us of the precious qualities of the moment.