Fourteen members of our club made a field tip to Garden in the Woods on May 15th. This was one of our best-attended field trips ever. We had a glorious day to enjoy that spring had finally arrived – warm enough to enjoy the outdoors, and not too hot for a long walk through the woodland paths.
We passed hillsides that were covered in Phlox divaricata with contrasting splashes of yellow Wood or Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum.) The Wood Poppy is not native to Massachusetts, but is native to much of the northern United States.
Along the paths we saw many other wildflowers, some were large and showy, others were more subtle because of their size or color. The Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides) was one of the delightfully subtle plants we saw. Tiny white flowers catch the sunlight as they are held above the small, lobed leaves. This spring ephemeral thrives in woodland shady spots with good drainage. It goes dormant in the summer, to reappear through fallen leaves in the following spring.
The Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) may prove to be ephemeral in hot, dry summers. With a larger flower than the Rue Anemone, the pale purple flowers make a subtle showing in the woodland setting. Pasqueflower is not native, coming from Europe and Southwestern Asia. It is not known for aggressive spreading, and is more likely to die out whan a growing season doesn’t meet its needs. This plant wants that elusive combination of moist-well drained soil, and requires watering in hot summer weather. It will grow in sun to part shade.
Other spring ephemerals that we saw included Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and a few yellow ladyslippers. These were, unfortunately, not in sufficient light for clear photographs. We were too late in the season to see the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadense) in bloom. We did see some lush stands of the distinctive leaves – hinting that an earlier trip next year would be enjoyable.
One of the loveliest group of ephemerals are the Trilliums. We were fortunate to be there when many of them were in bloom. We noticed lone specimens, and dense patches in other spots.
We saw Trillium grandiflorum, which may be the largest of these plants. Its blooms start out a crisp, snowy white, and after pollination gradually turn pink. There were also a double flowered white trillium, at least one species of red-flowered trillium (Trillium cuneatum or T. erectum) and some yellow-flowered Trillium luteum.
If we had been there a few weekends earlier, for the Garden’s ‘Trillium Days’ we could have selected specific plants to purchase from the propagation beds. NEWFS staff would then dig and pot these for later purchase. Perhaps next year?
Garden in the Woods has an extensive propagation program, so that visitors can support this non-profit while buying native plants for their gardens. Despite ‘Trillium Days’ being prior to our visit, there were a few trillium remaining for sale, along with many other native plants. Of course, many of us indulged in some shopping, and are adding native wildflowers to our own gardens. If these do well, you can expect to see some of our wonderful purchases show up at our plant sales in future years!