Articles for the Month of April 2009

Cut-leaved Toothwort

 

 

Cut-leaved Toothwort (Dentaria lacinata or Cardimine concatenata)

Cut-leaved Toothwort (Dentaria lacinata or Cardimine concatenata)

Yesterday, while walking through the woods, I decided to take a deer trail down to the creek on my neighbor’s property.  Not 20 feet down the trail I found a beautiful little wildflower that I had not seen before.  Thanks to the Maryland Native Plants Society I was able to identify it as the Cut-leaved Toothwort or Pepper Root (Dentaria lacinata).  This is a charming Spring wildflower that flowers at the same time as Spring Beauties and Bluebells.  You never know what you are going to see beneath your feet.  I looked around and there was only this one little plant that has colonized (by roots presumably) an area right on the deer path).  I can see that it’s going to get trampled but I just can’t bring myself to lift this plant and take to safety on our property 🙂  I guess the only thing to do is to buy some for myself from Lazy S or some such place that specializes in wildflowers.

Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now

 

Wild Cherry in our woods
Wild Cherry in our woods
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.   

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A.E. Housman
I have always found special meaning in this poem.  However this year, with my own little encounter with mortality at the beginning of the year, I found particular pleasure in seeing the wild cherries in our woods come into bloom.  These are not the Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) that are so common in Maryland woods, but the true European Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) that was the original source of cultivated cherries we buy in the markets.  The fruits are small but edible and thoroughly delectable to birds.  If you never looked up to see the blossoms, you would be much surprised by the rain of petals later this month and then fruit that follows in May and June.

 

Wild Cherry branches

Wild Cherry branches

It is hard for my camera to get the full perspective of how these trees stand out in the woods even before the dogwood come into bloom.  But I think that A.E. Housman had it exactly right.  They are reason enough to walk the woods this time of year — and count one’s blessings to be able to do so.

A Time for Daffodils

It is prime time for Daffodils around here.  Everyday has its mandatory viewing and smelling.  Whether it is on a cloudy night just before a thunderstorm…

Daffodils above the pasture

Daffodils above the pasture

or as a massed grouping on the hillside,

Narcissus on the hillside

Narcissus on the hillside

or on the dining room table in one of Beth’s flower arrangements with the western sun streaming in

Narcissus flower arrangement on the dining room table

Narcissus flower arrangement on the dining room table

or just one by one in personal encounters with perfection.  Here are some of the best of this year’s crop so far.

Narcissus 'Edinburgh'

Narcissus 'Edinburgh'

 

Narcissus 'Avalon'

Narcissus 'Avalon'

Narcissus 'Cassata'

Narcissus 'Cassata'

 

Narcissus 'Chromacolor'

Narcissus 'Chromacolor'

 

Narcissus 'Tropical Sunset'

Narcissus 'Tropical Sunset'

The New Discoveries

I think it is especially rewarding at this time of year to see the plants that you had long given up on turning out to be actually a vibrant part of your garden.  Last year I planted a number of wild flowers in the woods hoping that one or more might survive.   So far it is turning out that many of them are now part of a woods that is becoming a haven for wild flowers.  The latest additions are Spring Beauties.  I actually planted 10 of the Claytonia Siberica from Sunshine Farm and Gardens.  But in the process noticed a little Claytonia Virginica that I had purchased from Lazy S last year.  And that one has just come into bloom.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Another pleasing arrival to the woods this year is the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum).  There are many colonies in local woods and along the roadsides but I didn’t feel right digging from those any more than I would dig up local wildflowers.  I had tried previously planting from plants ordered online but nothing had appeared.  This year I found not one, but two Mayapples coming up in the woods.  Whoopee!  Once started they should spread freely spread their little umbrella colonies in our woods.  

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) emerging

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) emerging

And another special surprise in the yard was a plant I bought from Lazy S last year and then totally forgot about — Anemonella Thalictroides.  The common name is Rue Anemone which accounts for the Meadow Rue like leaves and the small delicate white flowers that resemble Anemone Sylvestris.  

Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides)

Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides)

It is wonderful to see a new surprise in every day’s walkabout the grounds…

Apricots and Small Bulbs

 

Starke's Sweetheart Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

Stark's Sweetheart Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

 

Well before any of our Cherries or Apples come into bloom the Apricot puts out it’s blossoms, testing the cold spring nights.  They come without leaves and with startling red calyxes that contrast with the pure white petals and yellow stamens.  Though the advertised purpose of the Sweetheart Apricot is it’s almond-like nut we find that both the nut and the fruit are modestly useful at best, but the flowers…

This is the time of the year when the little bulbs get to strut their stuff as they accelerate their flowering to finish the important tasks before the trees start casting shade about.  I confess that I’ve had to struggle to keep the names straight because I rarely label all the little guys in the fall when I’m planting 25 or 50 of them and then come spring I wish I had given myself a few hints as to what little beauties are appearing.  I have to give the main prize to Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) which are on task to naturalize all of our seven acres…

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii

 

Glory of the Snow under the Japanese Maple

Glory of the Snow under the Japanese Maple

There are also pink and white versions and all of them lift their faces to the sun, unlike their more bell-like cousins the scillas.

Chonodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'

Chonodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'

 

 The Scillas also naturalize well and we have several small colonies around the yard and in the forest.

Scilla siberica

Scilla siberica

One particularly cute addition this year is the Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ which is about half the size of the other Scillas but does have the nice attribute of facing upward with the flowers with a lovely shaded pink color.

Scilla bifolia 'Rosea'

Scilla bifolia 'Rosea'

Another new addiition for us is the Muscari neglectum which has come out before the other Muscari and is much taller with a very dark purple-black color to the emerging flower.

Muscari neglectum

Muscari neglectum

And I can’t resist sharing the emerging flower from the Sharp-lobed Hepatica which I thought had died and gone to flower heaven.  It’s so much fun to discover that these hardy little plants have just been recuperating and are ready to share flowers again.

Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba)

Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba)