In the Garden:
A favorite spring ephemeral for damp shade, Virginia bluebells start out pink and quickly ripen to blue.
As much as I like my bright daffodils and perky pansies, this time of year I love to find nature's secrets - those woodland wildflowers such as bloodroot, liverleaf, trillium, and Virginia bluebell. Our region is rich with native wildflowers that grow in spring when the soil is moist yet plenty of light still shines through the deciduous trees. Seeing the wildflowers brightening up the woods always reminds me that the place we live in is really a great forest that's been remodeled by human hands.
Many of the native wildflowers blooming now are called spring ephemerals because of their short life cycle. Although they're extremely dependable perennials, plants such as bloodroot and Virginia bluebell burst on the scene in late winter, promptly bloom, and then grow for only a couple of months before going into summer dormancy. It's a smart strategy that's shared by many trilliums, spring-flowering bulbs, and bleeding hearts. By going dormant in June, they avoid the stress of the southern summer.
Growing Them at Home
If part of your yard is dominated by big deciduous trees, planting a few of these lovely wildflowers can be a small, yet worthwhile, act of planetary restoration. Many mail-order nurseries sell trilliums and bleeding hearts. You can find lesser-known species at native plant nurseries or wildflower sales held at public gardens throughout the region in April. Never dig plants from the wild unless the site is in imminent danger of being bulldozed for development. Besides being ecologically correct, you will have better luck transplanting wildflowers that are grown in containers compared to plants dug and moved when they're actively growing.
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