But this year it has gone all weird.
It is covered, absolutely covered, in tight round buds. Visitors tell me they have never seen a stewartia covered in so many buds. And I have never seen this one so laden with them. Last year it was flowery and pretty but it did not have hundreds and hundreds of buds waiting to open like it does this season.
But few are opening. They start to unfold, then most drop to the ground, littering the bottom of the tree with round bomb-like balls.
My completely unscientific theory, made up entirely out of my own imaginings, is that last summer's very high temperatures and long drought stressed this new tree. It is not dying, it did not lose branches, but it did get its forces together this spring and put everything it had into reproducing. Everything. Just in case another drought or heat wave hits, it wanted to be ready to keep the family tree going, so to speak.
Do you think stress caused this year's out of proportion bud production? Do trees plan ahead for dire eventualities? The unopened blossom bombs on the ground don't look like much of a survival strategy to me. And I am missing the prettiest feature of this tree --- when it blooms normally in late June and early July it can be such a sweet sight.