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This year is a great year to observe the mountain laurel in our landscape.    I love the wide range of colors that this shrub comes in.   “What range of  colors?  They’re pink.” you may be thinking.   The plants that I have seen range from almost pure white to light pink, dark pink and almost red in bud.   I see variations in the hue of the flowers.   They are quite lovely.

When I was young, I used to think of these flowers, their delicate color and their cup shape, as hoop skirts for ladies.   If you pick a single flower and hold it upside down, it looks just like that – a narrow waist and a flared wide skirt.   I probably watched “Gone with the Wind” too many times.

 

The flowers are slightly sticky.   The anthers are lodged into the sides of the petals.   When they ripen the stamen springs out from the flower and tosses pollen toward the pistil in the center of the flower.  Of course, they cross pollinate as well.   That is what helps mountain laurel have so many different flower shades.   I love the banded flowers – plants with a light colored blossom that has a deeper colored band around the inside of the cup.   These are very distinctive.    The different flower color types have been selected and then propagated by cutting to produce exact replicas that can be found in nurseries.

There are a number of places to look at mountain laurel.   Peaked mountain has a nice stand of this shrub on the west side of the peak.    There are trails that lead right by it.    Monson road is also quite nice, several houses were built in the mountain laurel forest along that road.   Of course there is also the Laurel Sanctuary located in the Nipmuck State Forest in Union, Connecticut.   This area is just off of Rt. 190 east of Stafford.  This week, try to get out and check out our beautiful mountain laurel.   This has been a great year for the plant and it is making a beautiful show.

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