In the wild

Leisure hours not spent in the garden often find my wife and I stumbling down nearby mountain trails (she walks gracefully, I stumble), with many trails selected for their botanical interest in addition to views of the valleys below. Several local treasures are hiked multiple times each year, and of course the glorious, native flora inspires planting in the garden.

I am most pleased that trilliums planted several years ago have begun to seed and spread about the garden, and though younger seedlings might not flower for several years, this should be an indicator that they are happy. I’ve been surprised to see several seedlings where I would least expect them. Growing at the edge of the asphalt drive is a long ways from a trillium’s native habitat, but I will encourage any that grow. Certainly, the garden will never resemble area woodlands where hundreds, thousands, and more grow, but here they flower a week or two earlier at lower elevation and I appreciate the advance notice that glorious blooms are on the way.

The various native orchids can be tough to get going in the garden. Pink and yellow Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium, above), Putty Root (Aplectrum hyemale), and cranefly orchids (Tipularia discolor) have been planted and lost, and planted again. Unfortunately, I note the loss to poachers of lady’s slippers in public forests that we have visited many times. In the garden late April is the prime orchid bloom, but in the mountains it’s the second week of May. We’ll be checking our favorite spots soon.

The Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia) and Showy orchid (Galearis spectabilis, above) are the easiest, but least showy of the native orchids, but there is much to be said for dependability and I am overjoyed to see these emerge through the blanket of leaves each spring. In bloom, all orchids are visited daily.

While orchids’ period of flowering is relatively short, the native geraniums (seedlings of Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’, above) flower over a longer period. I must plant more, but the red leafed selection of the native geranium seeds itself about. Unwanted seedlings are easily controlled, but I see more areas where this would be an ideal ground layer.

Flowers of mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum, above) are hardly seen except by lifting the umbrella of foliage, but the mottled leaves fit nicely between taller shrubs in shaded areas. The forest that borders the garden once had large colonies that disappeared after tulip poplars were harvested for lumber thirty years ago. A few smaller groupings are increasing in size and I’ve transplanted a few that are flourishing, though they are slow to multiply.

The native jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum, above) does not make much of a show, but the unusual flowers are treasured. Happily, these are slowly increasing in number, and while the garden cannot be called a native garden, even with annual additions, I am thrilled even by small spaces that mimic the splendid scenes I see in nature.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lucy says:

    Have you propagated your native jack-in-the-pulpit? I have one that had a large single bloom last year and this year has several smaller blooms. I’m wondering if I can divide it.

    1. Dave says:

      I’ve transplanted jacks with no problem but they also seed nearby.

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