Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wildflower Week: Waking Up

All month I've been looking forward to Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone, since things are finally starting to happen in the garden. But then Gail went and declared this to be Wildflower Week! Even better! So here is my Wildflower Wednesday/Week post:

What are these crumpled, not-yet-unfurled leaves? They're the greatest groundcover to grace my garden: wild ginger (Asarum canadense). These are passalongs from Mr. McGregor's Daughter (who also posted about this plant recently).

I have issues with groundcovers. I've tried woodland phlox (P. divaricata), lamium, and sweet alyssum in the sunny front border. But nothing takes! Instead I end up with blotches of plants or, in the case of the alyssum that I attempted to grow from seed, nothing at all. Not so with wild ginger! I have these planted in what is definitely the most challenging spots in my garden: dry shade between a box elder and silver maple where they fight against not only tree roots but the remnants of lava rocks that were piled 3" deep by the previous owners. Despite all the loads I've hauled out of these borders, there are still rocks worked well down into the soil thanks to years of downright stupid landscaping.

And yet these wild ginger are thriving! I initially received a few clumps (which I neglected to water and afflicted with some of the worst transplanting treatment one can give to plants). Over the past year, and now again this spring, they've started spreading and are almost reaching the stage where one could call a plant a true groundcover. Their thick, hunter green, heart-shaped leaves are a lovely backdrop, and I've been amazed at their drought tolerance. I'm planning to add many more clumps (assuming I have to given how well they're doing already).

If you have groundcover issues and need something for dry shade, look no further: wild ginger! (There is a European variety as well but I've never grown it and can't attest to its attributes.)

In other wildflower happenings, the pasque flowers are looking a little wilted from the cold and rainy weather, but their foliage is starting to unfurl and the second plant (not pictured) is in bud too. I'm absolutely loving these flowers and I'm considering planting more in place of crocuses. The fuzziness on the foliage is also suggesting to me that these really are the North American species, Anemone patens multifida. It's hard to tell because they're so similar to the European variety.

A golden alexander (Zizia aurea) is also about to bloom! Late April is a little early for these to flower, but hey, this plant is obviously loving life. My other zizias are well short of the flowering stage, but given all the moisture we've had lately I hope they're getting charged up for a great spring.

Pennsylvania sedges (Carex pensylvanica) in the rain garden are in full "bloom," looking like miniature yellow feather dusters.

And lastly, one of my prairie smoke plants (Geum triflorum) is budding, just the littlest bit. I'm afraid these plants are not getting enough sun in their current location, but since they're only in their second year I'm not going to make a judgement on moving them quite yet.

So much else is up and growing that it's much too much to name here. Despite spring's reluctance to show up, the garden is moving ahead anyway!


Gail said...

I like the little native gingers~They are good about covering the ground, too. I am always glad you join the WW celebration. gail

garden girl said...

I can't remember where I planted a couple of zizias last year, and still haven't found them - sure hope they're still out there somewhere!

I think prairie smoke takes a while to get established Rose. Mine's budding for the first time, and they were planted three years ago. (They don't get much sun here either.) Actually, I should say IT doesn't get much sun, because one of them was badly mauled by squirrels last fall and didn't come back. I'll be hoping for some seedlings to replace the one I lost and then some.

Sissy said...

Wait, they placed the lava rocks there?? Why? Was it like an outdoor grill area? That seems like a crazy thing to do!?

Rose said...

Good to see your garden waking up this spring, Rose! The wild ginger sounds like the perfect groundcover for a problem area I have in front of a big spruce tree; I hope I can find a source around here. Good to see your Golden Alexanders coming into bloom, too. I still remember seeing a field of them at the Chicago Botanic Garden two years ago--what a gorgeous sight!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Thanks for the link love. I've got a big grin on my face, reading about how well the wild ginger is doing for you. As they say, be careful what you wish for.
I have the same confusion issue with the pasque flower. I'm calling mine Pulsatilla for now. Your Ziza is ahead of mine. I looked at it today & didn't see any buds. It's still great as a foliage plant.

Anonymous said...

I really need to add a native ginger as was that Geum. Great post! :)

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