Posted by Ellen

In hot weather, watering all this must be a serious chore. The greenery actually wraps around the corner from 22nd Street, shown here, onto Pine Street. Some of it is edible; all of it is awesome.

Posted by Ellen

Crazy weather in Alabama this winter, so warm and rainy that the daffodils burst into bloom in mid-January, about six weeks early. And then, of course, a cold front came crashing down; Anna Singer picked these blooms and got them into the house hours before the mercury fell to 23 degrees.

Posted by Ellen

This papercutting associated with Hans Christian Andersen sold recently at a Christie's auction for about $24,000. It bears two dates: 1874 near the top, June 1871 at the bottom. Among the motifs, according to the auction notes: "ballet dancers, windmill men, heart-shaped windows, pierrots, Old Lukoie or sandmen, flower garlands, palm trees, storks, and gnomes."

Posted by Ellen

The rhododendron that were blooming back in June, when we spent a week at a camp on Little Sebago Lake in Windham, Maine, are just a memory now. Marion P. grew the flowers and cut them for us and arranged them and even supplied the bucket.

Posted by Ellen

One evening about a month ago, after a long day in the sun, Maggie and Colin weren't posing for a picture on a dock in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.

Posted by Ellen

This time of year, in this part of the world, the greening up is happening fast, and the procession of blooms is even faster.

First came the quince, and then before the quince petals could hit the ground, the forsythia was everywhere, schooling us in the meaning of yellow. Meanwhile, up in the sky, the first trees to let loose were Japanese magnolias, with blooms as soft and big as a baby's head and so ridiculously showy that the other trees don't even try to match them. Down on the ground, crocuses went over to daffodils, and in pots and boxes there were suddenly big happy pansies and delicate little violas.

But those were the warm-up acts. Here in the mid-Atlantic states, the star of springtime is the Japanese cherry tree, with branches that arc so heavy with blooms that it's an excuse to declare a festival. Two weeks ago in Washington and last week here in Philadelphia, official festivals drew tens of thousands of cherry-blossom admirers into the parks.

But that was then. Already, the cherry blossoms on my street have mostly drifted on down to the pavement. In the spotlight now are plum trees and redbuds and an old-fashioned kind of ornamental pear tree; its clouds of flowers look just like apple blossoms but smell like . . . like . . . old fish?

And soon enough, or almost soon enough, we'll move on to dogwoods and azaleas and tulips and then my personal favorites, the lilacs. Then it gets hot, and that's it for spring.

My brother-in-law Sandy Fuchs took this picture during a recent walk through the Kenwood neighborhood of Bethesda; I remember riding a school bus through Kenwood on my way to junior high school, tunneling through the flowers.

Posted by Ellen

I had hoped that our days on the trail in the Himalayan foothills would include views like this, and such expectations were fulfilled many times over. This is Machhapuchhre–Fishtail–a holy mountain that no one is allowed to climb. The flowering tree is a rhododendron, Nepal's national flower, which was just coming into bloom in early March.

But the scenic vistas were really the least of the experience. Nepali footpaths are essentially highways for the villagers who live in the hills; they have no railroads, no cars or trucks, certainly no airports, so if they want to order a little refrigerator from town and bring it home, somebody will have to walk up the trail with the refrigerator on his back.

If they want to bring a squawking chicken to a nearby village, somebody will have to tuck it under her arm and walk with it. If they want to bring in sacks of rice, or buckets of sheetrock, they will have to load up a donkey caravan and walk behind it with a loud voice and a big stick. They may have to walk for days and days and days, first on the floor of the valley, trudging upstream alongside a river, and then steeply up the side of the hill, on a rocky staircase of sorts built up over the centuries with rocks pried loose from the soil of terraced hillside fields and vegetable gardens.

One of these staircases had more than 4,000 steps–think four or five Empire State Buildings on top of one another. More of which to come.

The villages are agricultural in character, but they all have commerce now, thanks to the trekking trade. Restaurants feed the visitors, souvenir stands sell them stuff, and lodges put them up for the night–accommodations are "basic," with outdoor facilities, but tourists don't have to carry their own tents or food. To feed us trekkers, somebody from the village walked down the hill with an empty basket on his or her back and then walked back up again with a basket full of bottled water and other Western goodies. Nepalis don't use backpacks; they carry even the heaviest loads with the aid of straps across their foreheads.

At least one inn in every village is called Shangri-La. Rooms go for about 200 rupees–$3–a night.

Posted by Ellen

 For the kitchen table, Marion brought us lupine from her yard in Warren, Maine. Sharing the vase with the flowers are leaves of mint. 


Posted by Ellen


Back when this bloom was at its peak of perfection--a few days before Hank took its picture--he spotted it in a greenhouse and decided it was the finest flower ever. He doesn't know what kind of flower it is, and neither do I.

Do you? Please help us out here.