Sunday, November 4, 2012
Native wild flowers often present contradictions to anyone that tries to bring them into the garden. Cardinal Flower continues to puzzle us. It reproduces by both seed and daughter plants at the crown. Six young plants and uncountable numbers of seeds are produced every year by a single plant. One would expect weed like numbers from this treasure. That is not the case here. Late spring freeze and thaw cycles are terribly hard on the daughter plants. New plants from seed have eluded our identification. This fall we planned to resolve the latter matter.
One of those black plastic nursery trays was placed over freshly weeded garden soil. Commercial potting soil filled the tray and spilled over the edges. Seed that had been gathered on one of those rare dry fall days was sprinkled on top of the sterile potting soil. In nature the wind shakes the plant stems scattering the ripe seeds. They fall on the surface of the ground. Light may be necessary for germination so the seed was left on the surface. If cardinal flower seedlings appear here in the spring, we will be able to see just what they look like. Knowing their form will help us save some during early spring weeding. Our ignorance may have placed countless seedlings in the compost bucket.
Robin's Plantain usually blooms here in late spring. These late fall flowers are a fluke. Usually the stems on this plant are much taller. For some reason this plant was compelled to produce these short flowers in November. I suppose a real optimist would take this as a sign of an early spring or a mild winter. The snow and chill in the air today does not support that idea.