Thursday, May 24, 2012

Work on the Fern Garden

There was a nice surprise waiting for me at the Fern Garden.  I hadn't been there for a couple of weeks (too much work at home) and only got back there two weeks ago. To my surprise, I found a lot of good wildflowers growing there!

I am surmising that they were planted but I don't know by whom.

Flowers past: Viola pubescens, Trillium erectum, Asarum canadense, Trillium grandiflorum, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Sanguinaria canadensis.

 I was there to cut down the emerging shoots of Dog-strangling Vine. Most of these were about 4" to 6" tall and I used a sharp hoe to chop them off at ground level. My idea is to do this repeatedly and even if it doesn't kill the plants, it will allow the other things in the Fern Garden to grow while we get around to digging them out. It's not a huge space, but 6,000 sq. feet is still more than one or two people can dig over in a few spare hours. As it was, it took me almost 3 hours to chop down the visible shoots. Mind you, I spent a bit of time moving piles of old branches and such to make it easier to get my hoe in. It's hard to chop something off short if it is growing up through a foot of loose brush!

That was two weeks ago. This week I was delighted to find more good things blooming.

Flowers present: Podophyllum peltatum, Actaea pachypoda, Arisaema triphyllum, Tiarella cordifolia, Viola cucullata, Mitella diphylla.

I chopped down Vine shoots again.... only took an hour and a half this time.... but I was disappointed to see quite a few taller shoots in among the Jack-in-the-pulpits and the Ostrich Fern. I must have missed them before. I had to pull these by hand as I couldn't work with a hoe in among these good plants but that did give me a chance to look closely and inspect the ground under them.

Certain Vine plants that I had marked the week before were all only a couple of inches high, so my hacking effort has at least slowed them down.

There were also a surprising number of Garlic Mustard seedlings, and my hoe came in very handy on them. That darn thing is a biennial so will be coming up from seed for years... of course, so will the Vine. We are going to have to cut down any that reach flowering size in a wide margin all around the Fern Garden to slow down on them seeding back in. As they say, "One year's seeding means seven year's weeding".

Seeing all the wildflowers that are already there made me decide to change the plan about where to put the Holman bogs a little. I had planned to put two fairly large ones more or less in the centre, but there are good plants there, so now I think a number of smaller ones closer to the new path will be better. Easier, too! It's not hard to dig these things, especially not in the sandy soil there, but it is hard to find a bare spot to put the soil while you dig the hole and get the liner in! Nearer the path we can spread a tarp and put the soil there.

There were lots of other native plants as well, some of which were still small such as Trout Lily, Clintonia, and Bunchberry, and others that will bloom later such as Zig-Zag Goldenrod and White Snakeroot. All in all, I listed 30 different wildflowers already established among our ferns!

Hopefully, next week we can dig one or two of the bogs and then D.F. can transplant his ferns.... he has large plants of things that need damp, such as Cinnamon Fern and Interrupted Fern, and these bogs are an attempt to provide that in a dry area. His Marginal Wood Fern has survived it's move last year and is showing many of it's charming scale-covered fiddleheads. Most of the small ferns I planted last year have also survived, with the exception of some Maidenhairs which have not appeared, at least not yet.

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