Thursday, April 2, 2020

Our Shade Garden

Unlike yesterday's pictured plants that were all photographed as they are growing in the wild, today's plants were all transplanted in our shade garden.  Sharp lobed hepatica has a rather unruly nature,  Petal colors range from white to purple with a wide variation in color intensity.  The number of petals on an individual flower can vary from five to thirteen.  This plant prefers limestone soil so I must remember to mix limestone pellets in the ground leaves that will soon be placed here.

Early Meadow Rue was newly purchased last year.  This plant exists as either male or female and perhaps this is the female form.  Its nearby companion is just now breaking the surface.  That difference may be gender related or simply depth when planted here.

We are rather loose in our definition of native plants.  This California Trout Lily bears leaves that strongly resemble our New York native Trout Lily but its flower colors range from pink to purple.  These plants are rugged beyond belief and deserve regular dividing.

Six days ago many of these plants were freshly transplanted here.  An amazing amount of new growth seems to indicate that they approve of their new location.  We mix our woodland soil in a wheelbarrow and this was laced here last Fall and given a generous cover of ground fallen tree leaves scavenged from nearby village streets.  That time and effort seems to be paying generous dividends.

This plant was a gift from a village resident.  It is called Trout Plant because of its speckled leaves.  It is not native to our continent but it has several characteristics that earned it a place in our shade garden.  It is both rugged and civilized.  A tenacious survivor, its spread is rather well behaved.  Encroaching new growth is simply broken off and discarded with no apparent damage to the old plant.  The two color blossoms are unique and attractive.  Newly opened flowers are pink. They change to blue rather quickly. 

We have been looking for Bloodroot plants.  Last year our new transplants experienced a great growing year and we were expecting them to return.  Cavorting deer trampled both the Bloodroot plants and the nearby Jack-In-The-Pulpits last Fall.  Bloodroot is usually an early appearing plant but so far no trace of them has been seen here.  We were unable to find any growing in Irma's woods yesterday so perhaps a little patience is needed.  I guess I am acting like a little kid on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April First Native Flowers

For some time we have been considering which native flower opens first.  It does not require a close look to spot these brazen yellow blossoms commonly seen in roadside ditches.  Note the complete lack of leaves which will appear later.  Coltsfoot cannot be in the running for first native flower since it is an European immigrant.

Eagerness to spot early flowers must be tempered with some reason.  Here the leaves are clearly Partridge berry but the flowers are Hepatica.  This presentation brings to mind a favorite story told by our elderly neighbor,  He saw an Arbutus plant apparently bearing purple flowers.  No one will suggest that what he actually saw was Hepatica growing close to Arbutus.  I intend to plant Hepatica close by one of my Arbutus plants in his honor.

Sharp lobed Hepatica presents blossoms of various colors and different petal counts.  This example bears eleven petals each colored a beautiful light violet.  It took me years to appreciate these first native flowers since early garden work kept me from wandering in the woods.

This nearby plant bears only six petals colored a near white blue.  In these woods Sharp lobed Hepatica is the first native plant to present flowers.

This Spring Beauty came in a close second.  Its bud will soon open revealing another early treasure.  Its growth habit makes transplantation nearly impossible.  From a pea sized corm a slender underground shoot travels a considerable distance before sending up its above ground leaves and flowers.  Removing a plant intact is highly unlikely.  As the plant is ending its growth cycle, following the then nearly dead underground shoot back to the corm is no simple task.  These plants grow wild in our back woods but are absent from our wildflower gardens.

Six lightly colored petals presented themselves above the jumble that is characteristic of natural forest floor.  We were unable to find any sign of Bloodroot plants today.  They will appear soon in this location but lost the race for first flower.

Mention must be made of the justification for leaving  the house during these trying times.  Just across the valley from our home is a bedrock ridge that slopes to the south.  Flowers appear first here in response to earlier warming.  Our walk took us along the dirt road that crosses this ridge.  We encountered no road traffic and saw no bikers or hikers while there.  Our outside time here endangered no one.  The land where all of these pictures were taken still carries tattered or fallen  posted signs bearing the name Haller.  A long ago phone call identified the land owner as Irma Haller.  We both taught at the Sidney Junior High School for its last decade of service.  My call was placed in an attempt to gain permission to explore these woods.  What I got was a sincere thank you for respecting her posted signs.  Becky and I frequently walk on this road while looking for flowers.  While there memories of Mrs. Haller always cross my mind.  In keeping with her high standards of expected behavior, we still respect the signs even though Mrs. Haller passed several years ago.