Saturday, March 31, 2007

Emerging Wildflowers

Do you know what these wildflowers are? Answers below the last picture.

Marsh Marigold.

Mayapple which Gene called Mandrake.

Skunk Cabbage.

It's an early spring

These may look like dandelions at first glance, but where is the foliage? It is Tussilago fargara or coltsfoot. Another common name is son-before-father, because the flower blooms before the leaves emerge. Because the tuberous stems can go as far as ten feet underground and seeds are spread on "parachutes" like dandelions, it is considered invasive in some areas.

As I walked under the Cornelian Cherry behind the Garden Shed, I heard a loud buzzing. Hundreds of tiny bees were busy pollinating this cloud of yellow flowers. This tree, Cornus mas, was originally planted by Gene and is actually in the dogwood family, not cherry family. It was mentioned by Homer using the name krania.

It is very early to see the cut-leaved toothwort in bloom. Next week the floor of the woods will be covered with the blooms of this spring ephemeral.

The hepatica in the Wildflower Bed of the Tame Garden is also in bloom. Of these four flowers, it is my favorite.

Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum, is a bulb with a simple five-pointed white flower, but not everything that is beautiful belongs in the garden. It is listed as an invasive species in Indiana and it sure has invaded the Tame Garden at GSP as seen in this partial view of the garden. That is NOT grass; it is SoB foliage.
It propagates through the dispersion of numerous bulblets surrounding a larger bulb, some smaller than a grain of rice. Cultivation in the Tame Garden has dispersed these bulblets throughout the beds.

Research by several land grant colleges has shown that herbicides are not effective, because of its waxy foliage. The recommendation to remove these bulbs from the garden, which crowd out other spring flowers, is total replacement of the soil, which is not a viable option for us as we do not have the staff and funding required. So in the spring of 2006, we tried to dig up the bulbs in the west arbor bed. (It took two weeks of intensive labor.)
This spring showed a marked reduction in the bulbs, although numerous tiny bulbs sprouted. We are digging these up to see if we can eradicate this invasive bulb through our labors.

The Tame Garden

This is one of the few archival photos of Gene Stratton-Porter's "Tame Garden" in the Wildflower Woods. She planted thousands of native plants in the Wildflower Woods, but she also had a formal garden which she called her Tame Garden.

The photo was taken from the top of the garden, looking to the Cabin. AT the bottom middle of this photo, part of the rustic wisteria arbor that transverses the garden is visible. The flagstone walk under the arbor and the wisteria plants survive today and the rustic arbor has been reconstructed.