Friday, June 19th, 2015...7:03 am

Spring Ephemerals

Real Spring weather might finally get here. The flowers don’t seem to mind this unusually coldish April weather that we are having. They are merrily blooming their heads off, while I am too cold to sit in the garden to do any work. So I am just walking around and admiring.

This is the time of the year to take a walk in the woods to see the little flowers that are called Spring ephemerals. These are perennials with a very short lifetime. They bloom and then the plant seems to disappear. The word ephemeral means “lasting for a very short time.”  And one doesn’t see the plant again until it flowers the following spring.

Since TheGardenLady’s property is basically in the woods, my front lawn is covered with some of the spring ephemerals. Growing up, my daughter loved the flower called the Spring Beauty -Claytonia virginiana. I hate to mow my front lawn that first time in the spring because I always fear that because we couldn’t see the plants after flowering, we would kill the plants. But so far, we are lucky that they are still coming up every year for our delight. (One reason for NEVER using weed killers.)

I fear that spring ephemerals are not the hardiest “weed” in the garden and from what I have read about them, they do need a special environment- the rich undisturbed moist woodland. And they also need very specific pollinators. One pollinator is the Bumble bee (Bombus). (A reason not to use pesticides, too.)

Some of the other spring ephemerals on my property are:

Erythronium americium (Trout lily, Yellow Trout lily, Yellow dogtooth violet)

I had never seen this flower before I moved to this property. The first year I raked and found a trout lily, I made my husband come out to photograph it. I am proud to say that I now have one section of my garden where the trout lily has grown into a large 2 ft by 2ft patch.

I also have had the Trillium with the common name of Wakerobin. I guess it got its common name because it blooms in the spring when robins seem to awake after winter (though some robins stay around and are awake all winter). I looked for the Wakerobins this year but didn’t find them. Did they die off because of something or will they come back another year?  It takes 7 years from it to grow from seed to plant.

Can you plant any of these spring ephemerals?   If you have the proper environment that they like the answer is yes.

If you want to try raising spring ephemerals, don’t dig them up from the wild. Get them from friends’ gardens or there are nurseries that sell them. The good nurseries all raise them from seed- not from the wild.  You can even buy seeds. Some of the spring ephemerals like Virginia bluebells I have planted and they are easy to grow and I am growing them successfully. Some like the bloodrood Sanguinaria canadensis and the Trillium grandiflorum are struggling even on my woodland property.

Go on line to find the particular plant you want. One wildflower seed source is this:

For buying plants check out this:

For more information on spring ephemerals read this:

TheGardenLady readers would love to see photos of any spring ephemerals growing in your woodland garden.

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