My Friend Bud

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in leaves, photos, plant parts, Unmowed Blog, winter | 2 comments

wellshortonbudsUnder the snow, the leaves of spring are waiting.

Thanks to Wells Horton for capturing this photo.

One of my naturalist friends, Glenn Humphrey, likes to teach kids about “my friend Bud.” Buds, in strict botanic terminology, are those little brown bumps on the ends of twigs that no one ever notices. Until one fine day, when the little bumps burst open and reveal the leaves and blossoms of spring we’re all panting for. As miraculous as a chick hatching out of its shell.

But when did Bud start incubating those baby leaves? Last spring. At the base of each and every leaf on each and every tree, a tiny speck formed. That speck, beginning its growth in early 2012, was the beginning of the leaves of 2013.

All through the summer, all though the fall, the buds bide their time, growing imperceptibly bigger. There the coming leaves wait, tiny and perfect, curled snugly inside a weatherproof layer of outer bud scales. In the bitterest days of winter, they’re bright green inside. If you scratched one of these winter buds with a fingernail right now, you’d get a preview of  the spring that lies within.

Soon, soon. There’ll come a day. The combination of warm weather and increasing daylight will swell the buds and they’ll crack open.

Bam! Spring.


  1. in the worst of winter, I look for azalea and rhododendron buds for hope!

  2. I just realized: you’re sneaking science in on us! Ain’t it great! I did not about Bud – how long he’s been lying in wait.

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