Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Here Today Gone Tomorrow






Spring ephemeral describes a number of perennial woodland wildflowers which develop stems, leaves and flowers in the spring, then bloom, go to seed, decline and eventually disappear underground until the next spring. Here today and gone tomorrow!

Nature is so very clever in allowing these beauties to take advantage of the sunlight warming the forest floors before the shrubs and canopy trees leaf out. We enjoy a wonderful spring exuberance of color and then they disappear; leaving room for summer blooming wildflowers and perennials.

Here are a few from my garden. I wonder if you grow them, too?


Claytonia viginica/Spring Beauty has begun to spread about my yard. I often wondered why it was so prevalent in the neighborhood, but not here at Chez Cedar. Most yards in my neighborhood are covered in Spring Beauties during the first weeks of spring.But not my yard. It could be that the shallow soil isn't inviting to Claytonia or that the previous owner used a pre-emergent weed control or a weed and feed to green up the grass killing them all.

Generous friends have given me plants and I hope they will be happy and expand across the remaining grassy area.



Another early spring ephemeral is Cut leaved Toothwort or Dentaria laciniata.It's a sweet little plant that freely spreads about the gardens. Who cares how many babies they make, when you know they will step aside for later blooming plants.
You can see the yellowing leaves, but more difficult to see are the thread like stems that held the seeds of next Spring's blooming babies.






Shooting Star/Dodecatheon, in the topmost photo, has bloomed its heart out and is now beginning to yellow and set seed. It will quickly disperse its seeds and disappear.


Sanguinaria canadensis/Bloodroot leaves enfold the bloom as it emerges. I almost always miss the flower, a white flower with bright yellow stamens. The rhizome is a bright orange, hence bloodroot.


The Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches) disappearing ....the only evidence after they decline are the corms which I accidentally unearth when weeding or planting. They look like little kernals of corn.


Enemion biternatum or False Rue Anemone forms a ground cover of sweet white flowers early in spring. The leaves are very similar to Columbines, both members of the same family... Ranunculaceae.

Trilliums, may be my favorite spring ephemerals.

Did you know that Trillium seeds are carried away by mice and ants and spread about the garden? Trilliums have a fleshy material attached to seeds called elaiosomes that ants find especially attractive. The ants take the seeds to their nest and eat the elaiosomes. The seeds are then deposited in the ant's garbage area where they are able to germinate in a rich garbage growing medium! Composted by ants!

My Trilliums dance around the wildflower garden and then slowly they will begin to yellow and disappear.


But first they twirl and dance and make a really big show.



He was hiding under the shrubs and grew quite tall! I found him under the branches of a Forsythia; a gift from an ant or a mouse!


Then they yellow and slowly disappear.....


Thanks for stopping by, spring is quickly evolving into summer at Chez Cedar with temperatures in the 80's. Soon the spring bloomers will be replaced by summer's perennials. But aren't we Southern Garden Bloggers lucky! We get to experience spring all over again with our Northern friends.

Gail

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood

31 comments:

  1. I like the trilliums too. I have the white ones blooming and hope they spread around. Did you know Indians used bloodroot as war paint? It is kind of cool.

    Guess what?? My mayapples are back! I thought they had died out but I found them and they are spreading. Right now they are next to the irises and I think that may stop them a bit. I hope I don't have to cull them to keep them from taking over. They have been here 3 years and there are about 5 there. Geri dug them for me.

    I still LOVE those shooting stars.

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  2. Gail, What a lovely post. I have a special fondness for those ephemerals, thank you.

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  3. Composted by ants!! How cute as is the quote from Margaret Atwood.

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  4. What a thoughtful post and lovely little specimens. :) Isn't it wonderful to watch Nature unfold?

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  5. Hmmm, great minds think alike. I just posted photos from a spring wildflower walk. I was rushed in keeping up with the group and "competing" with others all trying to photograph the same plant, but I think my camera's macro feature also leaves much to be desired. May I ask what camera you use? Thanks!
    ~ Monica

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  6. Tina,

    They are wonderful plants...move them to a spot where they can romp all they want! Regarding Trilliums, The white one's here are already gone!

    The Shooting Star are wonderful!

    Gaul

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  7. Hi! You have lots and lots of nice gardenplants!
    Nice blogg to :o)!
    Linda

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  8. My Shooting Stars have moved into blooming position. Any day now, they'll be in bloom. I don't know why I've never gotten Spring Beauty or Toothwort. I just love the ephemerals.

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  9. barbee, I am glad you like them...right now they are looking a bit weathered but they are special.

    Gail

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  10. Jean,

    That's what they do with the seed carry it home and compost it so we can have new trilliums! Isn't that the coolest!

    Gail

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  11. nancy,

    nature never ceases to astound me and from your posts I would say that it's true for you, too.


    gardenfaerie,

    I read your post, you had a good walk in the woods!

    Gail

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  12. linda,

    Thank you and welcome to clay and limestone.

    mmd,

    You have got to get Toothwort and Spring Beauty both would love your garden and be at home with the Shooting Star.


    Gail

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  13. Ah the spring ephemerals, so welcome after a long winter and so cherished for their brief beauty. Your shooting stars look beautiful. Mine have had a series of unfortunate events, one year with the new fence building, and another with a large falling tree branch. I'm hoping that they have recovered and will bloom this year.

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  14. northern gardener,

    Oh, I hope so, too...they are such lovely flowers and as you say, so briefly in our gardens.

    Gail

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  15. Great post. I really enjoyed it. I did not know that the trillium seeds were carried that way. I saw lots of them in the mtns of N.C. Thought they were so pretty. Different colors & combinations. I miss all the wild flowers that I used to see. Hubby would drive through woods with me on tail gate so I could see better. He always stopped so I could get a closer look. Really miss all that.

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  16. lola,

    That is a wonderful story, glad you weren't bumped off the tailgate!...The woodlands are still full of wildflowers and people like me are lucky to have the woodlands nearby and grow them in my garden.

    Gail

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  17. Love the Margaret Atwood quote. And the shooting star. Now all you more northerly gardeners are having your day, teasing us southerners with gorgeous plants that don't grow down here...most of which I've only read about and never seen in life.

    Thanks for sharing them. It's much more interesting to read about them in the gardens of people I know than just in garden books.

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  18. Hi Gail, your spring beauties, all of them, not just those with that name, are so wonderful. We have a hard time here with all of them, but have managed to have a few return. The drought is hurting us, and the slope makes the moistness needed almost impossible to maintain. The shooting star did not arise from the earth this year, hope it is just sleeping until there is more rain. The trilliums were sad also, kind of melting before really opening fully. Better luck next year!

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  19. mss,

    and I feel much the same about your Austin gardens...just the other day I found myself looking longingly at a large Agave and then there is the 6 packets of cilantro seeds I bought for my meadow!

    I love the quote...and often smell of dirt at the end of the day!

    Gail

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  20. Frances,

    So sorry to hear that, no Shooting Star! I believe they are dormant and when we get enough rain they will shoot out of the ground and into your heart! I confess, I watered the trees and the flowers got some, too.

    I have a penstemon that you might like, I found it in the way back...growing in a damp spot, in shade! It hasn't minded wet feet or dry, it's got to be a parentage thing because it shouldn't like wet feet! I am planning a post on it!

    Gail

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  21. I found some trillium just like the one's you did a couple weeks ago and forgot to post on them. You're right there is no worrying about ephemerals spreading when their window is so short. They are like an introduction to the gardening year.

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  22. Every time I read your blog I realize just how many plants there are that I have no idea about, and probably won't because they won't grow in my area. So thanks for the tour of a new land.

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  23. Dave,

    Post them please, I would love to hear where you found them and see your photos..

    Gail

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  24. vertie,

    I read that Shooting Star's range is into Texas...I wonder if it would grow in Austin?

    Gail

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  25. Enjoyed your post so much; very informative. I've seen trilliums often pictured in magazines, but your photos really capture their life cycle.

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  26. Unfortunately my suburban yard lacks these wild spring ephemerals, but as I get more shade, I hope to add some. I love, love, love when I see the spring beauties blooming, to me it is just one of those moments of spring when we know that winter really is past.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  27. Rose,
    There are some trilliums that are very stunning reds and whites and yellows, but these lovelies are home grown and very special to me! Glad you liked the post...
    Gail

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  28. Carol,

    Isn't that the truth they do mean spring is here! Not too much shade, you need sun for your lilacs and vegies!
    gail

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  29. Your ephemerals are lovely, Gail - I planted dutchman's breeches and claytonia in IL and had trillium there, but never saw a shooting star.

    I guess the ten-petalled anemones, bluebonnets and white Cooper's rainlily would qualify as Austin ephemerals in my garden?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  30. You helped me to identify Cut leaved Toothwort or Dentaria laciniata.! Yea! Thanks! I'm sorry I haven't been over to visit for awhile. :-)

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  31. This triluim looks amazing!

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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