Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Favourites

Ah, Spring!

What joy to see my old favourites in bloom again, yet what heartbreak when the flowers shatter and they are gone again for another year. Sometimes I think joy and heartbreak are two sides of the same coin. Babies, puppies, flowers...... all bring such sudden leaping joy, and leave such longing behind when they grow up. At least with babies and puppies you have the children and the dog to enjoy in the future, with flowers there are just leaves or, worse, bare spots in the garden. I'll just have to look at my pictures a lot! And stop being so greedy!

 The Trout Lilies, Erythronium americanum, are wonderful this year. Far more of them have flowers this year than usual. I have acres of the leaves at the back of my property, but most years there are only a few blooms. This year there are dozens.Nobody is quite sure what makes them bloom or not bloom.... quite a puzzle.

 Another great favourite is Trailing Arbutus, Epigea repens. It is a shrub, but a trailing one. It likes north slopes and pine woods, so I put a few plants under the huge pines beside my driveway. They seem happy there. The flowers don't last long and the plant is not terribly impressive, but it is one of the first things to bloom every year. It is also sweetly scented, quite worth getting down on your hands and knees for.

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, is also very early. It's flowers only last a few days, but are spectacular when they all open in the Spring sunshine. My plant is spreading nicely and seeding around a bit. I'll have some to move into my woods this summer. There are already a few but I want sweeps of them!  Bloodroot loves rocky terrain, so it ought to be pretty happy here.

A tiny plant that I wish were more inclined to do the same thing is Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria. The original plant is certainly spreading, but there are few flowers and so far no seeds. It needs a slightly damp spot, I think, and mine is perhaps too dry. Either that or it is intimidated by the Pink Ladyslippers all around it. These are just showing their 'noses' and it looks like it's going to be a good year for them.

Here is a non-native plant which is another spring ephemeral. It is Jeffersonia dubia, or Japanese Twinleaf. It is just like our native J. diphylla, except that the leaves and flowers are suffused with pink-mauve. I've been looking for our native one for years. I know where there are some plants, but I've never managed to get there at the right time to snaff some seeds. And I would have to snaff them as they are in a Conservation Area run by a person who never lets anyone have any seeds. I'm not sure if I'd actually do it, but the plant is so hard to come by that crime is beginning to appeal to me. I'm not sure what the 'bug' is that is visiting the Jeffersonia, but there have been lots of them this Spring.

Ah, Spring, indeed.

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