The soil had barely warmed up before they pushed out and began to unfurl their leaves and buds.
|leaves trap warm air to protect the buds from spring cold snaps|
Such remarkable and fragile beauties. Ephemerals emerge early each spring, taking advantage of the rich, moist soil and full sunlight streaming through the bare branches of the deciduous trees. In the short period of time before the tree canopy emerges and blocks the sunlight they must grow, leaf-out, flower, be pollinated, produce seeds and die back (retreat underground).
|the earliest to bloom are closer to the warm soil|
These are flowers that one never has to worry will be nipped by the vagaries of our spring weather! They grow very low to the sun warmed soil and they often have either hairy leaves/stems or leaves that wrap around the emerging buds that trap warm air and keep them from freezing.
Isn't nature amazing!
|dense hairs trap heat and protect the blooms|
|they are visited by all kinds of critters|
They're a vital food source for pollinators at a time when there is little food available. They are visited by many different critters, including honeybees, bumbles, carpenter bees, flies, beetles and their seeds are a primary food for ants. (Ants have a special relationship with the seeds of ephemerals, but, I'll save that story for another time!)
If you're like me and want to help pollinators get a good start in spring, then plant more spring ephemerals in your woodland garden. Please don't dig them them from the wild and be sure any you purchase are certified nursery grown!
The pollinators and other beneficial insects will thank you by making a home in your garden.
PS It bears repeating...If you want a happy and healthy garden with lots of insect visitors then never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides and be careful which flowers you bring home. You want to make sure they haven't been pre-treated with any pesticides that might harm your pollinators.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.