Now that I am working in a rural landscape I am becoming more sensitive to how my new plantings will affect the existing plant and animal communities. I am cautious about introducing species that don't belong, native or not. One very helpful resource for me is Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping Chesapeake Bay Watershed from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This publication lists many native species found in the Chesapeake watershed including their native ecoregion (Mountain, Piedmont or Coastal) and state where each is found.
As a designer I also want to insert some visual effects with form and color. This may require broadening the plant palette, drawing in materials from other areas and even a few well behaved non-native plants to achieve a particular aesthetic effect. In general I will utilize a wider variety of plants in the immediate vicinity of a house or other man-made feature. As I move out to the edges of a property I narrow the plant selection to the regionally native species. I try to avoid introducing any species that don't naturally belong there.
So before I get too far in planning and planting new native gardens I need to do some surveys of what is already present. This (finally) brings me to the topic of what I found growing during the second week of April. The tree canopy was still pretty open and the woodland floor was really greening up.
The first thing that really hit me was the masses of Virginia Bluebells that were coming into bloom. These started coming up about a month ago. Some had purple tinged foliage that has since turned green.
I was very pleased to see large masses of Mayapples coming up, especially I had just bought a half dozen to plant along the driveway. These look somewhat alien when they first break ground. They have a large white flower that stays just under the leaf.
|Mayapple leaves open up like umbrellas, 6-8 inches across.|
|Once leafed out Spicebush can still be identified by the spicy scent of its bark.|
|The number of Spring Beauties has finally peaked, |
now the blooms remain only in the shadier spots.
Note the garlic mustard off to the right.
Spicebush was another plant that I had just purchased to add to driveway area. I was very happy to see a large mass of these growing near the creek. The little flower clusters add an ethereal yellow haze to the scene. These are not as garish as the Forsythia that are also in full bloom at this time.
The Spring Beauties, Claytonia virginica, are continuing to come out - now the ground is sprinkled with the pale pink blooms. The Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, have also come into fuller bloom. Some are white and others have a yellowish cast.
|Flowers started out a pale green |
before opening up and turning white.
In with the Dutchman's Breeches is a plant with similar finely divided foliage, but this one had tubular yellow flowers. It turns out that this is Yellow Fumewort, Corydalis flavula. This native annual is 4-12 inches tall and has glaucous green foliage similar to other Corydalis. I had never seen this before and was suspicious that it may some of the non-native Yellow Corydalis (C. lutea) that escaped from a garden. The distinguishing feature from other yellow Corydalis (C. aurea and lutea) is that the upper lip of the flower is toothed. This species is rare in New England, but not uncommon further south and west.
|This winter annual was probably among the |
early foliage seen back in January
|The upper lip of the flower is toothed. Also,|
seed pods are visible just below the flower on the left.
|Should be getting some yellow flowers from these Trout Lilies in a couple of weeks. |
If they are white, then these would be White Trout Lily, E. albidum.
|Each flower stalk of these toothworts has a pair |
of deeply tri-lobed leaves, hence the epithet 'diphylla'.
|Common Blue Violet has hairless flower stalks, |
otherwise this could be Woolly Blue Violet, V. sororia.
|Unlike other weedy Cinquifoils, Rough Cinquifoil has |
trilobed leaves and relatively large blunt-tipped flowers. However, this is actually
Indian Strawberry, Duchesnea indica. with larger flowers than the Cinquifoil
and later a red berry.