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Nature's second act commences

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By Walt Reichert

Act One of Kentucky's springtime show is almost over; Act Two is just beginning.

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The tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, dogwoods, redbuds and  forsythia of early spring are gone, or nearly so. The cool, wet spring has left still in flower a few white and pink dogwoods lining Main Street, but most have dropped their blooms and are sporting green leaves. A few daffodils still hang on. Tulips may be the flowers of the Derby, but they are long gone from local gardens.

Spring's Act Two features another cast of flowers, many just as welcome as the early bloomers. Clematis, that queen of climbing vines, is opening its lipstick of gaudy flowers on vines that are as delicate as lace. Chris and Phil Hayes give passersby on Main Street in Shelbyville an eyeful of clematis as the variety “Ramona” wiggles up their wrought-iron gate.

German bearded iris, the flower the old folks know as flags, is blooming in clumps around town. Purple and lavender are the traditional colors, but whites, reds, yellows, salmons and blues are out and about.

Peonies are associated with Memorial Day, and many grow around graves in Grove Hill Cemetery. But in Kentucky, peonies start blooming now and likely will be but memories by the end of the month. In the woods, wildflowers like celadine poppy, betony, trillium and lady's slipper are hitting their stride about now.

Viburnums and black locust are still perfuming the air at our heads; low-growing dianthus leaves its spicy smell at our feet. “Miss Kim” lilac is one spicy lady right now.

Soon roses will bloom, daisies will flower and catalpa trees will hang with blooms, presaging the “cigars” that will follow. By then the spring show will be over, and summer will be here.