Monday, May 25, 2015

Native Invaders

On May 12th we were enjoying the bizarrely structured flowers displayed by our transplanted fringed polygala.  Trout lily also intrigues us and at first we were pleased to see it growing with the polygala. Canada mayflower was also moving in and its numbers seemed excessive.  Polygala is an easily displaced plant and we reluctantly reached the conclusion that the invaders had to go.  Weeding here required the summoning of all the courage we could muster.  Wishing to avoid damaging the tender one we finally moved in with delicate force.

If John Burroughs had seen a trout lily in this configuration, he would have had no difficulty in seeing how this plant placed its bulb several inches deep into the soil.  Soon new bulbs would have formed at the tips of the white roots.  One plant would have become three in a single year.  Quickly the trout lily would have crowded out the polygala.

A firm but gentle tug removed many invaders with their roots intact.  The free hand was used to hold the surrounding soil and stems in place to limit the impact on the polygala.  Weeds whose roots broke off may return but so will the determined weeder.

The bright light green leaves are new polygala growth.  A generous soaking with a watering can followed the weeding.  The tilted new growth will have to right itself since no way to help in the tangle could be found.  An unbroken stem has a good chance to straighten itself.  We continue to water here frequently and the polygala is now showing more new growth.  Carefully tending native wild flowers seems to be filled with basic contradictions.  Polygala is disappearing from our woods and intervention to try to save it seemed to be the only course.  Two daughter plants have appeared near the transplant but we can find no information defining a preferred location where this treasure can make it on its own.  For now they will remain where they are presently growing.

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