Wednesday, May 3, 2017
My first childhood memory of interacting with a wildflower involves the white trillium. A woodland at the edge of our cultivated field contained a sizable patch of these flowers. Around Mother's Day, I would bring an arm load of these flowers to my mother. My grandmother pointed out that I had picked the leaves as well as the flowers so the plants that I had touched would die since they were left with no way to take on nutrients. Since there were so many flowers, I dismissed the awful truth contained in my grandmother's words. That childhood memory may be what compels me to grow this native treasure now.
These plants were purchased from a mail order outlet that promises that the plants were taken from the wild in such a manner that guarantees sustainability. I hope that they are true to their word. The three large flowers appear to be from a single plant or at least from a naturally expanding root mass. They have been planted here for several years and are finally settling in. The much smaller flower and plant have been here for a shorter period of time.
We carried in woods soil and leaves to try and create a natural planting medium. Our guess is that this location is a little on the dry side. My planned project for this summer is to build a series of sloping stone ledges intending that extra water will be directed towards the wildflowers to be planted at their base. Trilliums will be among the first plants placed there. We hope for an extravagant massive display.
A more recent encounter with the white trillium occurred while driving from Richford to Ithaca. There must have been a mile long stretch of winding road that bordered a long undisturbed wooded slope. Trilliums in uncountable numbers filled those woods. An improvement project to straighten the road destroyed that natural wonder. That event may be another force that drives us to work to establish a natural appearing planting of this pure white wonder.