Monday, April 12, 2010

Fertility Rites, Going to Seed and What a Difference A Day Makes

Spring is a wanton, wild, virile, fertile time of the year. Sex is everywhere. Birds are mating, nesting in every available tree and shrub.  Butterflies are emerging from over-wintered chrysalises, bees and wasps are pollinating everything in sight, and squirrels are chasing each other in wild leaping abandon across treetops and over roofs. Frogs and toads are singing, full of it, until every square foot of water is full of gelatinous ropes of eggs, and black with tadpoles and polliwogs. And the flowers! They are ALL about sex, flaunting their spring wardrobes, their only be-all for existence to make seeds,to fling them to the winds and chance, spreading their kind far and wide. Many of the spring flowers haven't wasted any time, either! They have already bloomed and are ready to send out seeds to conquer the world, one at a time!

Bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis) almost at bursting point, looking out for new territory

Celandine poppy, (Stylophorum diphyllum), getting ready to claim new real estate

Daffodil seed pod--planning for the future, 5-6 years from seed to bloom! They also increase by division of bulbs, but the seeds get scattered at quite a distance and start new clumps away from their parents.  Sometimes one old clump will have neary a hundred bulbs! (background leaves are false Solomon's seal, smilacina racemosa)

This is kinda fuzzy! There are hundreds of these, adder's tongue, (Erythronium Americanum) on the march to cover as much new ground as possible, both with seeds and division of bulbs. ! Here's another that will be several years from seed to bloom; making huge colonies of plants with single leaves, that only show themselves for about a month in spring until they disappear until next year.

Hellebores have their seed pods set already! This is Helleborus Niger, the so-called Christmas Rose.

Something seems to have changed in the woods this year. More exuberant, maybe, surely more fertile. I think the woods has undergone a change in dynamics.I'm not sure just what the cause is. Possibly climate change, perhaps it's the rooting out of all that honeysuckle that used to cover nearly every square foot of the ground except where the wildflowers grow so closely interplanted that not an inch of ground shows between them.
Yellow corydalis, ( Corydalis flavula) "colonizes nicely" as they say in the seed catalogs, but it is a dainty, ferny plant that is always welcome wherever it shows up.  An old name for it is "yellow fumitory".

Or perhaps it was the dry creek and re-routing of major paths. Whatever the cause, and maybe all of the above; as I work around pulling weeds, small trees and honeysuckle bits that I've missed, I'm finding all sorts of small wildflower seedlings where there were none before. Some are more than 50 ' away from the original
stands; bloodroot, trilliums, dutchman's breeches, ginger, virginia bluebells hundreds of feet from any other colony; even tiny woodsia ferns barely an inch tall.  One hellebore seedling somehow found its way down to the bottom of the woods. It seems with the honeysuckle gone, all these plants have the freedom to go exploring and stake out new territory! I must be careful where I step so I don't crush these baby colonies. I love to see them spread like that! In a few years, they will carpet the entire forest floor.

I have planted masses of lysmachias,(two kinds), Virginia waterleaf, common daylilies and a chrysanthemum that reseeds as well as spreads by stolons, in the bottom of the woods, all together. I'll let them fight it out for territory as they are all greedy and aggressive claimers of property. If they can live together it ought to be a colorful spot! There's nothing else down there for them to crowd out except a few irises, so we'll see.

What a difference a day makes!

There are surprises every day in a spring woodland garden! As I wander around down there peeking under leaves and and peering around trees, I find all kinds of things that weren't there yesterday.
White trillium (trillium grandiflorum) I always look anxiously for these as they come up later than the other trilliums, but they always come back, and sometimes there is a new one where there wasn't last year!

Yellow trillium (trillium luteum)

Here comes Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)!

One of my favorites, hardy orchid (bletilla striata) in bud. They will be blooming next week.

The deer ate the first flowers of pasque flower (anemone pulsatilla) but they put out some more! I covered them with an up-ended flower pot tonight as the deer were lurking in the meadow Out Beyond waiting for me to leave so they could have their way with my plants! I guess the clover and lespedeza that grow in the meadow aren't tasty enough for them.

Merry bells or bellwort (uvularia)

Bird's foot violets (viola pedata), one of my favorite violets. This violet is a prairie plant and loves full sun.

Jacob's ladder (Polemonium) I wouldn't be without this pretty, dainty blue.

Tritellia (lpheion uniflorum) This is a little bulb that will spread willingly and wantonly, and last for weeks in the spring garden, well into May. Its beautiful blue flowers seem to glow in the dusk.

Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) Can be any shade of blue, sometimes pinkish or white. Strongly perfumed and blooms for a long time. Lots of cultivars but they still mostly look just like this wild one!

Flowering almond (Prunus glandulosa) Wonderful flowering shrub! The one that grows here came with the garden and is probably 10' across.

Viburnum Carlessi Korean Spice. Can't you just smell this? Wonderful!

Combine this old-fashioned lilac with the above viburnum and it is fragrance heaven!

Praiie Fire crab (Malus "Prairie Fire") Today it's in bloom! 

What is tomorrow going to bring? I can't wait to get out in the garden!

"With fields full of clover and the apple trees,
The rosy richness of a springtime breeze,
I forgot all the work I'd planned to do
And just loafed in the meadow till
The day was through."
--Edna B. Hawkins


  1. Beautiful photos. You express so beautifully what is happening in your area.

  2. Thank you for your kind comment!