A tunnel of laburnum trees bloom into fragrant golden waterfalls of flowers at Bayview Farm & Garden. The annual spring delight is expected to attract many garden lovers Memorial Day weekend. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

A tunnel of laburnum trees bloom into fragrant golden waterfalls of flowers at Bayview Farm & Garden. The annual spring delight is expected to attract many garden lovers Memorial Day weekend. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Tunnel vision: Time for ‘Golden chains’

Crowds gather at Bayview nursery for annual display

It’s time to sit a spell beneath the lovely lace of laburnum.

Trees, that is, at Bayview Farm & Garden.

Flowing like golden waterfalls, the long, arched tunnels of blooming laburnum branches put on a spring show seldom seen — or sniffed — at other nearby nurseries.

From near and far, green-thumbers and others flock to see the floral arbor like bees to pollen. In fact, both species are buzzing about as the trees peak.

“This weekend, people will all just be standing under here, taking pictures,” nursery owner Maureen Murphy said earlier this week. “Busloads are coming from Canada and around the region. It’s like a carnival, there’s so much activity.”

Murphy planted the trees in 2002 just a few years after starting the nursery on the side of a barn that sold farm feed.

“I was trying to think of a real ‘wow’ feature for this garden center, ” she recalled. “English garden centers influenced me a lot.”

Laburnums are common in England, Scotland and Ireland. They do best in maritime climates with moderate summers and winters, which is why they like the Pacific Northwest.

There are other laburnum trees on Whidbey Island but none have been shaped into tunnels of love and labor.

“It takes four people a whole week up on ladders to prune out the dead wood and reweave and retie the branches,” Murphy said. “Definitely a labor of love.”

There are 24 trees total, six on each side of the two tunnels. Most people are so enthralled looking up, across and out the dripping ribbons of leafless racemes (that’s the official name of those hanging ribbons) they don’t notice that tree trunks hold up the spectacle.

Laburnum, sometimes called golden chain or golden rain, is a genus of two species of small trees that are native to the mountains of southern Europe.

They are deciduous, lending themselves to seasons of color and contrast going from blooms to bare braids of branches. When snow occasionally falls, as it did this past winter, some swear to see hobbits burwrowing holes underneath the arbor.

In years past, the nursery had a professional photographer taking portraits under the golden tresses for customers. But because of on-going renovation to the nearby Flower House Cafe that’s just re-opened, and other factors, that service was scrapped for this season.

But there are always selfies.

Pretty as a picture, yes. Poisonous too.

All parts of the laburnum tree are potentially deadly — in large quantities — particularly the seed pods.

“It’s toxic if enough is ingested,” Murphy explained. “Primarily the seed pods which we prune off before they develop when the arbor is finished blooming. There is no need for concern unless someone tries to make a gigantic tub of salad of it and eats the whole thing. Many plants in our gardens can be poisonous, but it’s not a worry.”

Opened in 1993, Bayview Farm & Garden is also known for abstaining from using any chemicals during its 25 years of business.

“I protect all the pollinators. The bees at this nursery are so fat and spoiled,” Murphy laughs, “they’re drunk on happiness.”

Maureen Murphy, owner of Bayview Farm & Garden, stands beneath the arches of laburnum trees that she planted some 20 years ago in the nursery.

Maureen Murphy, owner of Bayview Farm & Garden, stands beneath the arches of laburnum trees that she planted some 20 years ago in the nursery.

More in Life

Islanders help victims of Kilauea

Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, landslides. And now, two Whidbey Islanders add volcano recovery… Continue reading

File photo/Whidbey News Group.
                                Classical guitarist Andre Feriante of Langley plays at a gathering of Island Bohemians last year. He’s hosting a guitar festival at two South Whidbey wineries Aug. 10-12.
Feriante brings festival to Whidbey

Two wineries host ‘Guitar Euphoria’ Aug. 10-12

Jack and Jill’s Downhill Marathon 2018

Two fat flies spin wacky spirals around my head and torso, like… Continue reading

For t’ai chi class, yielding sabers all about better balance

Onlookers who witnessed a group of sword-wielding people Tuesday night at Fort… Continue reading

“Foggy Sunrise, Lone Lake” by Pete Jordan
Artist’s new home

Painter Pete Jordan moves into Museo gallery, reception planned

Theron Murphy, of Orem, Utah, kisses his wife, Jody, in front of the John L. Scott Real Estate office in Langley. People stand on the sidewalk on the heart, kiss, then make a hash mark on the chalkboard. The office keeps a tally and posts the monthly and yearly count. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Pucker up!

Chalkboard tally ensures every smooch counts

Coffee brew has a Whidbey kick

Combining beer and coffee isn’t exactly a unique idea. There are plenty… Continue reading

Tidepooling Along the Olympic Peninsula

The shell collector skillfully maneuvers his way across the beach, wades through… Continue reading

Origins of fairgrounds’ story pole is a mystery

South Whidbey historian on the case to uncover true carver

Little Mermaid Jr. awash with color, talent

Whidbey Playhouse kids’ production on stage July 19-29