I'd like to think spring has arrived at Clay and Limestone. When I open the door on the 50˚ mornings, it smells like
spring.You've smelled it! It's the fresh dirt smell that wafts on
the breeze on warm spring days. Scientist call the chemical that makes
dirt smell fresh geosmin, I call it delicious. We can thank the plant munching bacteria that live in our soil for making it.
It's not just the smells, although late winter blooming Hamamelis vernalis' clovey scent is wafting about the garden on warm days. When it's a bit chilly I have to get up close and sniff the flowers, but, it makes me long and hope for more blooms and spring. And, have you heard the birds? They sing louder and more melodious in the spring. It's not my imagination, they're singing louder!
A few of the spring ephemerals have poked up from under the leaf liter demonstrating once again that leaves on the garden don't kill our native beauties and that spring is just about to bust open.
My garden is just beginning to undergo the marvelous transformation from brown to green. Over head the elms are budding, in near by yards the maples have begun to bloom and many shrubs are starting to push out leaves. Dirca palustris' fuzzy blooms will be open before we know it.
|the diminutive woodland beautyand WW star, Erigenia bulbosa|
Freezing nights and pounding rain can't dim my hopes for an early spring. But, let's not rush headlong into a big spring crescendo before it's time, after all we do need to admire our wildflower of the month, Harbinger-of-Spring/Erigenia bulbosa.
It's the earliest and smallest of the spring flowers. So small, no more than 4 inches tall, that it is easily over looked among the brown leaves on a woodland hillside. The pure white flowers and chocolate colored anthers contrast beautifully and, are clearly, the reason for one of the common names, Pepper and Salt. It blooms early in our woodlands and everywhere it blooms giving rise to its common name Harbinger of Spring. I've not seen pollinators on the sweet blooms, but, little Carpenter bees, Mason bees, and flower flies are said to visit for nectar. It grows in rich moist deciduous woodlands in dappled shade.
|I love this little carrot family member (source*)|
Botanical name: Erigenia bulbosa
Common name: Harbinger-of-Spring, Pepper and Salt
Native range: Eastern Canada, most of eastern US, including OK and AR Light: dappled shade
|Photo by Chris Paccard|
Flower type: Umbels, like little upside-down umbrellas
Leaf Color: green
Bloom Color: white
Bloom Time: Feb, Mar, Apr
Soil: acid, neutral, rich, average loam, think not picky!
Comments: The root is a small, rounded tuber
Wildlife value: Insect visitors primarily seek nectar from the flowers and include small to medium-size bees and miscellaneous flies.
This plant is a member of a large and important Carrot (Apiaceae) family. Relatives
include Queen Anne's lace, water hemlock, carrot, parsnip, parsley,
celery, dill, fennel, cumin, anise, and many more. All have flowers
arranged in umbels (like little upside-down umbrellas), and the seeds
are structurally similar. I count myself fortunate when it showed up in my
garden a few years back. I dearly wish it were commercially
available~it's a lovely little flower and should be in more of our
Why post it? Because positive publicity is needed to educate our friends, neighbors and communities about how important even the smallest changes we make as gardeners can be for pollinators, birds, insects and mammals that live all around us.
For an incomplete list of things you might consider doing or changing in your garden follow this link!
Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not, and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment and a link in the comment section. mr Linky is no longer working on my site.
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.