Mountain Laurel (kalmia latifolia) is the state flower of Connecticut (and Pennsylvania where I grew up). Indigenous to our area, it thrives throughout Westwoods.
In the winter, its twisted stems and dark leaves add a fairy-tale eeriness to what would otherwise be pretty upstanding set of forest plants. In late May and early June, the gnarly bushes might or might not bloom, depending on whether they are in full sun or shade or the severity of the winter. Last year, possibly because of a deep freeze in February, the leaves were mottled and only the bushes in full sun produced flowers. But this spring …. OMG, all of the Mountain Laurel, even the small specimens in total shade, are laden with clusters of pink and white flowers.
In 2000, another year of extraordinary Mountain Laurel flowers, Richard Jaynes, author of Kalmia: Mountain Laurel and Related Species credited the profusion of blooms to a mild winter (just like we had this year). But, he warned, after a year of profuse blooms, plants will focus their energy on the seed capsules, not the flowers.