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Golden rain sports lots of bursting blooms

Q: I’ve been seeing lots of not-so-big trees in bloom around town bursting with bright yellow flowers. I remember you saying they remind you of fireworks but can’t remember the name of the tree. Help. – L.Y., Albuquerque

A: You are correct that I have likened the bloom on the golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) as exploding fireworks. This tree is in bloom many places in town.

A lot of them are planted along Montaño between Fourth Street and the river and are exploding right now.

Some don’t like the seed pod that is created by the tree after blooming, but I find them a marvel. The pods that hang in bunches are a three-lobed, papery looking, bright-green lantern.

As the season advances that paper lantern turns to a pale rusty brown color and can hang in the tree well through early winter giving you something extra to look at during the gloom. The lanterns make a nifty whispery rattle noise, too.

But right now it’s the flowering that is the most spectacular.

Trees that Please – a nursery in Los Lunas – lists the tree as a moderate water user that can grow easily in either clay or sandy soil. Sounds like just the ticket for our area, huh?

Some don’t care for the golden rain, but me, I look forward to the fireworks these trees offer every year and since you’ve noticed them you do, too. Enjoy!

Q: The house we just bought has a flower bed with what I think are daffodils. The flowers are long gone and tattered, and the leaves are yellowed. What do I do with these plants? – N.H., West Side

A: Get yourself a sharp pair of stout scissors or hand pruners and cut all of that above-ground growth to ground level. Everything you’ll cut off needs be pitched or added to a compost pile if you’re going to have one.

Keep the area watered periodically throughout this growing season, perhaps add a few blooming perennials to remind you to water, and know that the bulbs were re-fed and are now resting, conserving their strength to surprise you next spring. Easy as that!

Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.