The Garden in The Woods was a place we had heard about for years, and on this fine day we made the visit. A very pleasant afternoon was in store for us! This is a native plant preserve, championing the flora of our natural lands, beginning with a well-appointed parking lot, (which is a great place to showcase the formal use of native plants), and ending with a store of native plants for sale. This is an unforgettable landmark giving us visitors the continental sense-of-place so needed in the cultivated plant landscape dominated by the monolithic list of alien species in the surrounding Boston suburbs. Here an alternative aesthetic is carefully cultivated and presented, with a bookshop for the data, info, inspiration and roadmaps, a native plant sale to sell you the actual products, and a series of formal gardens to present this alternative landscape to the visitor.
There are signs that tell us visitors about the native plants, and help us get acquainted to them.
As this next picture demonstrates, the native plants attract the beautiful native wildlife, such as this dragonfly.
At the plant sale we bought a blooming Turks Cap Lily and a Trillium sulcatum, which was marked down because the plant had gone dormant and was just a pot with dirt in it. We will see what happens next spring!
Many of the plants in the gardens can be seen in the woods and meadows in and around Monson, Massachusetts (where we were staying) and surrounding New England. Here they were arranged in a a garden setting where varying communities of associated plants were grouped together in a condensed format. Above, Isabelle photographs blooming Black Cohosh.
The well-appointed facilities made this place a very pleasant and relaxing place to enjoy the plants.
And every opportunity to learn at every turn! This is a great place to take gardening notes. We spent an hour and barely moved down the trails!
A great place to get gardening ideas, especially for that native plant garden!
The Bee-Balm, Monarda didyma was in full bloom, a great hummingbird plant.
The Carex pensylvanica , Pennsylvania Sedge lawn was impressive to us, being that we have also created a Pennsylvania sedge lawn in our backyard, which we mow like any other lawn. This native sedge is also very ornamental if left un-mowed as well.
The board-and-batten shed with the green roof was a charming addition to the show. Would have loved to see how this roof was put together, would imagine there is a plastic membrane below all those plants. Thats a garden shed, or is it a shed garden then?
Gotta have that sense of humor! This contained the Asiatic Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus, a dreadful vine pushed by the horticulture industrial complex long enough that it was planted widely and has wreaked havoc all across New England. Many unsuspecting buyers were lured with the promise of bright red berries on the vine. While some non -native plants can take over 100 years to become invasive, this one wasted no time at all and immediately began overtaking everything in its path.
Another charming path through the gardens..
The native irises.
A great section featuring the Pitcher plants.
The fruiting Mayapples in the Natural area of the garden.
Spring 2013 has reached its final hours as of this writing. It seems as if the transition from Spring into Summer gets lost in the lush green world. The violent storms that rage across the Midwest, and grass and trees growing with the utmost vigor are all the makings of a late spring. This season of Spring offers such a wide variety of weather conditions, colors and skies that it leads to confusion about it still being winter or all of a sudden summertime. This one season most notably has no on-off switch. It can be totally winter on its early days and totally summer in its later days, but this season is still Spring and we would be cheating ourselves out of that Spring feeling if we fail to get it into perspective through it all.
After the Equinox of late June, is when Spring officially ends, and on both sides of this moment are the transitional signs.
Spring is over when the Mayapples flop over leaving their ripe fruit on the ground to be consumed by Box Turtles. Spring is over when the last degree of bright green freshness in the leaves of trees is turned over into a deeper green maturity…The fruits of Jack-in-The Pulpit begin to mature into bright red clusters….. The last flowers of the Columbine finally wither away…. The last of the Bloodroot seeds has been dispersed by the ants, and some of the leaves begin to show signs of age, some with holes and yellowed edges.
The invasive Garlic Mustard begins to turn purple and the seedpods harden and become brittle.
Spring being over has so many signs, surely everyone can think of something that changes, often a plant in the yard, or an insect or bird sighting. In this period, knowing that Spring is over for you becomes your own personal ending and the beginning of the transition into Summer.
For us it was the flopped-over, yellowed Mayapples in the Core forests of Morris Park that signaled the end of Spring, ones we saw as we busied ourselves trying to pull out and bag as much Garlic Mustard as possible, before it is too late. (When the seeds mature, they ‘pop’ out and spread if we touch the plant, making this invasive problem worsen)
For you, dear readers, please let us know what your End-Of-Spring moment is!
And now, please do ooh and awe at the bountiful plants and flowers in our Spring Garden! Here they are:
This mid to late Spring scene in our garden, pictured above is blooming Columbine, Coral Honeysuckle and Wild Geranium with Christmas fern and Wild Ginger.
Above, the Heuchera americana has beautiful red leaves and creates a nice contrast to the very green backdrop.
This Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) is a favorite Mid to Late Spring garden plant. Enjoy these amazing purple blooms. This specific plant is just growing on its own, having reseeded itself naturally, being that it grows naturally in the adjacent Morris Park. The specimens in Morris Park almost never bloom or go to seed because of excessive deer browsing. The seeds from this plant are saved and dispersed into the park in an effort to maintain the local population of this species and stave off extirpation, which is the extinction of a local population.
Above, the Wild Geranium blooming away in that distinctive Spring sun.
Above, the Coral Honeysuckle, the Lonicera sempervirens, blooming away. This is an indigenous vine which is very useful for attracting Hummingbirds. It will cover your fence or arbor and bloom away for months on end, transcending the seasonal changes. This plant is our main Hummingbird attraction. We do not have a Hummingbird feeder, so we rely on a variety of other plants as well, especially as Spring transitions into Summer.
From left to right: Ostrich fern, Blooming Columbine (also a hummingbird plant), Jack -in-the-Pulpit, Maidenhair Fern and Mayapples on the right hand foreground.
Above, The Maidenhair fern grows very well in the rowhouse urban garden. It likes the protection of cliffs. This watering can got very little use this Spring 2013, except for whatever plants were transplanted or nursery purchased, such as a bunch of Cardinal Flower we bought for the Hummingbirds.
The native Irises, we proudly display for you.
So, there you have it, Spring is now over with, at least for the most part. Perhaps we will see more bits of Spring-like behavior in the upcoming weather or plant and wildlife behavior as the days proceed beyond the Equinox.
Spring 2013 is quickly wrapping up as the solstice approaches. Post Memorial Day has a summer feel in some respects, but it is still the very end of Spring. The trees have a fresh, lush, green and the Tulip Poplars are still flowering here in Philadelphia. The Bloodroot is just now letting out its seed, with their pouches bursting open, full of ripe brown seeds, ready to be carried off by the ants.
We are presenting a retrospective of Spring in our Garden, starting with the flowering Bloodroot.
Bloodroot opens up with a refreshing, diverse array of delicate white flowers in the early Spring afternoon.
Bloodroot creates a joyous and exciting start to the season. We decided to try to capture the blooms in a time-lapse video.
With all of the apps out there with the Ipad, Iphone and Ipod, we were able to create these videos of the bloodroot flower blooming. We used the app O-Snap, which has a very easy user interface. The Ipad video was the first one made. This one was made in the course of an afternoon, using a photo taken every 30 seconds. Watch these 490 photos unfold in this time -lapse movie:
The Ipod Touch became a dedicated camera for over two weeks as we made a time-lapse video of the Bloodroot flowers growing and blooming. Most essential was to have the device inside the house, and up against a window, with a planter box where we have bloodroot growing, so the protected device was only about one foot away from the plants.
The 1400 photos taken over this period were taken at 15 minute intervals for the most part, and towards the very end of the segment, they were reduced to just one minute intervals in order to try to capture the flowering event, which was difficult to predict due to the weather. This video is most interesting because it clearly shows how much the plants follow the sunlight as the days pass by. See this Video here:
The intervals of photographs were based on prior years observations of this plant’s flowering habits and some calculated risk based on these observations and the weather conditions. Basically, to get a blooming flower in a video, there must be a sunny afternoon (the flowering is generally not a morning event), above 50 degrees with a full bud on the emerged plant, right around the Spring equinox in Philadelphia. If it is a nice , very early Spring day, then the Bloodroot may be blooming!
The I-Pad and I-Phone 5 were busy recording the blooming flowers on just one sunny, bright, early spring afternoon. The bundled tablecloth cloth was the extra insurance needed against a sudden wind or toppling of the Ipad onto the adjacent rock. That would be an unfortunate mess!
The Iphone 5 captured our favorite patch blooming nicely in this video:
And then the flowers were gone, the petals scattered about the dirt below, signifying the end of the very early spring.
We very much enjoyed the Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) that grew and bloomed in our garden!
Spring Beauty is a great garden plant, creating pleasing and serene early spring white flowers that last for a few weeks.
This picture above is all new material: This is the first time that the Dutchman’s Breeches we planted three years ago has bloomed in such a robust manner! Also new is the garden fence, which we installed to keep off-leash dogs from trampling our plants, as well as discourage browsing deer from eating them. So far, this has been wildly successful, as well as an elegant solution. As some neighbors have noted, it is very French as well.
Christmas fern unfurls amidst the fronds of last year. Always a pleasant scene in the Early Spring!
And this, above is the most fabulous Early Spring garden combo: Mayapples, Bloodroot Bluebells and Jacob’s Ladder.
These next two shots are the last Bluebells we will sing praises of and display for you, this year, 2013. This Spring has been the most fantastic Bluebell year for us so far, in our Gardens and in our Spring adventures, the Bluebell has been the Spring thing.
This Early Spring retrospective written in the last days of Late Spring would not be complete without showing off our garden Trilliums. Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve anyone? Could this picture have been taken at Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve or what? Trillium Erectum v. album with Mertensia virginica, the Bluebell is such the Shenks Ferry scene. These nursery -propagated specimens are now re-seeding themselves in our gardens, just like at Shenks Ferry.
And this brings us to the last thematic of Early Spring 2013: how our urban yards can be transformed into the reality of some of the most vibrantly beautiful natural areas we can dream of visiting on a beautiful balmy Spring day. And if you have lots of room in a rural or suburban yard, imagine how many of these same plants can become larger, more comprehensive swaths of natural beauty, so much so that you may be happier staying home, (away from the traffic and crowds looking for nature in the decreasing remnant natural areas) because you are mesmerized by the beauty of your own yard!