This week's featured flowers are from one of our flowering trees - Catalpa! This fast-growing tree has huge heart-shaped leaves that start out purple and fade to bright green. The flowers bloom in large upright clusters and look like a cross between orchids and rhododendrons. They are white with purple and yellow markings. This is a deciduous tree that is related to the trumpet vine, and it grows well in full sun or partial shade. Ours is a Northern Catalpa, and they grow to be around sixty feet tall on average (I've read that they can occasionally get up to 100' tall). If you are not a fan of messy trees, then this tree is not for you because the leaves and seedpods are truly gigantic and can completely cover a yard with debris when they fall. Personally, I don't mind the mess because our kids LOVE the huge leaves and giant seedpods. They use the Catalpa leaves as parasols, hats, and fans in the summer and as umbrellas in the autumn. The seedpods look like very long beans and range from 10" to 20". The kids like to use them as magic wands and as building materials for fairy fortresses. I still marvel at the huge leaves and seedpods year after year and enjoy the purple tones in the leaves and pods during their growth phase, and the enormous leaves help Catalpa trees provide a lot of dense shade. We have never had issues with pests, but I have read that in warmer regions Catalpas are breeding grounds for the Sphinx moth caterpillars which can apparently strip a tree of its leaves quite quickly. Catalpas are also called Indian-bean trees, Cigar trees, and Catawba trees and you can learn more about them on Wikipedia's Catalpa page, GardenGuides' Catalpa page, or Dave's Garden's Catalpa page.
A few book and blogosphere updates:
Jocelyn's story, which is a longer and more detailed version of Jocelyn's history with Valentine than the one shared with Clary in City of Glass. Then last Saturday, Cassandra Clare shared a tantalizing excerpt from the fourth Mortal Instruments novel, City of Fallen Angels. You can read that excerpt here. [WARNING: If you haven't read City of Glass yet, Jocelyn's story and the City of Fallen Angels excerpt definitely contain spoilers!] The CoFA excerpt is making me so excited for March of 2011! I seriously can't wait to read that book!
Anastasia Hopcus, the author of Shadow Hills, will be chatting with the Mundie Moms this Thursday. You can stop by the Mundie Moms blog on July 22nd at 9 pm EDT to join in on the chat. :-)