|Jacob's Ladder trying to bloom early|
This is my first spring with awareness of native plants. As I walk around the yard I feel like a young kid who was promised a pony for his birthday. Will I really get it? I’m starting to see signs that the promise Mother Nature made is really going to come true. The 4” sprout from the “dead” Eastern Wahooo last year’s fame, is budding up. The floor of the back yard woodlands, well lit without any leaves yet on the trees, is starting to green up with small plants.
The tiny little Blue Eyed Grass seedlings are starting to send up small green shoots. The Prairie Smoke, last year looking so insignificant in its first year while it focused on drilling roots deep into the soil, is definitely showing some vigor. Will it have built its foundation enough last year that it’ll bloom this season?
Small Virginia Mountain Mint seedlings are making themselves known where last year’s first native bed went in. In the same area, the Smooth Asters start to spread out leaves from the prior year’s base. The mulch is all gone from this planting area now, and many, many weeds are starting to sprout. I won’t use chemicals this year, so I spend some time trying to get as much of this chickweed, and small green onion like plants pulled up by their roots. I have to be careful I don’t mistake the seedlings from last year’s native plants as weeds. So I’ll error on the side of caution until I develop a discerning eye to tell the difference.
The Eastern Red Columbine seeds sowed and sprouted last year have turned into healthy looking, albeit small sirens of future flowers.
In the backyard I find another surprise. There are several clumps of Bloodroot blooming where I knew I didn’t plant any. A little research on this stunning plant disclosed an interesting fact. The Bloodroot seeds have a small fat-rich appendage. Ants cherish this “eliasome” and eagerly transport this and the attached seed into their tunnels. They don’t’ eat the seed, but feast on the fleshy attachment. Here in the ants’ tunnel the seed is protected and eventually sprouts. This is a terrific way for the plant to spread beyond its immediate parent. That’s how we end up with free Bloodroot plants around the yard. Nice job ants.
|group of Bloodroot in full bloom|
Later in the day I had a visit from my mentor who wanted to show her friend what a natural population of Bloodroot looked like. She quickly noted that there were many native bees actively pollinating the Bloodroot flowers. After they left, I went about trying to get a good photo of these bees. Kneeling for a half hour trying to capture this activity on film, I noticed that there were some brilliantly colored daffodils immediately to my left. (Yes, I know. They aren’t native. My better half says they are staying. Hmmm. I haven’t figured out how to get around this constraint yet.) Anyway, these daffodils had absolutely no visitors. Not one, Nada. In fact, there was a small group of Bloodroot nestled into a small clearing in the daffodils. The bees were eager to get the Bloodroot nectar but had no interest in even stopping to look at the daffodils. What an excellent example of what we’ve been learning. Native plants support wildlife and non-native plants don’t.
These flowers will only last about a week before the leaves unfurl. The leaves will then spread out to carpet the area. (The banner on this entire blog is a picture of Bloodroot in the summer taken here last year.)
My greatest joy now is understanding this is all entirely natural, adding to the biodiversity of our ecosystems, rather than constraining and diminishing them.