Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Return To The Wild
One of our life goals is to assist the return to a natural setting of native plants. With the exception of the protective covering wire cages, arbutus now grows here in three appropriately wild locations. Lobelia cardinalis has been here with us for decades but it survives with our help only in the gardens. Pasture grasses overwhelmed it after two seasons when we planted it near our pond. So now we make another attempt to introduce cardinal flower in an almost natural setting.
From what we have read, cardinal flower seeds require moisture to germinate. We recently discovered an area at the base of the bedrock ridge that features an occasional spring. Moving a short distance toward the former farm field, our plants will find adequate sunlight and moderately wet soil. These three plants have spent the past several weeks in plastic pots so that a move to the basement protected them from late frosts. Plants left unprotected in the garden are still alive but their growth is way behind the potted plants. Perhaps the natural cycle of tender new growth under snow cover making the transition to hard dark green leaves consumes a great deal of the plants energy as does recovery from frost damage.
In the nearby woods, fallen leaf cover prevents rampant grass growth. We used one of our bags of residential leaves to cover this area of ground. Additional leaves will be brought here to expand the grass free area. If the introduced leaves run to the natural fallen leaves in the woods, a wild appearance will result. We can continue to bring leaves here if the plants survive in this location. The protective wire cage is intended for a short time only. Once the cardinal flower settles in the cage will be removed.
These Jack in the pulpits discovered close to the location of the cardinal flower's new home are the first that we have ever found on our land. Widespread sizable chunks of broken ridge stone litter the ground here as the ridge gives way to the field. Walking here is risky but the area favors natural growth of the Jack in the pulpits. Perhaps the moisture in this area is necessary for these plants survival.
One thing that we did notice is that Jack in the pulpit's with only a single leaf had no Jack. Perhaps like the trout lily, older plants with two leaves are only ones to flower.
On a totally unrelated subject, as we neared our home by auto yesterday a red tailed hawk flew up just in front of us. It had been on the ground on the downhill side of the road and was flying into the woods. It was carrying what looked to be a baby woodchuck. The distance separating bird and car was extremely small and our view of the sunlit back of the hawk was incredible. Since we view woodchucks as mortal enemies, seeing one about to feed nestling hawks just seemed right.