Winterberry Farm Primitives

This blog is now devoted to gardening with native plants with a focus on those species native to the east coast of the United States. With an MS in Agricultural Science from the University of Delaware and my love of native plants, I hope to help folks see the beauty and necessity of using native plants in your garden instead of exotic plants. Did you know that our native song birds and native insects are disappearing as our local environments continue to change?
For those who come to this page to see my 'Winterberry Farm Primitives' blog can now be found at where I will post new additions to my online antiques shop at and discuss various subjects about primitive antiques.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Here come the Spring Ephemerals!

Hi everyone!
I have been working hard on setting up my research and studying so I took the day 'off' today to work in the garden and to take a few pictures of what is 'popping up'! Most of this post will be pictures of some of the early spring ephemerals coming up in the gardens around my home.
This first set of pictures show the early red sessile trillium coming up. The larger yellow trillium (Trillium luteum) and the grand white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) will be up later this spring. These next two pictures show some seedlings of the red sessile trillium that are coming up this year. Trillium must be at least 6-7 years old (and usually older) before they will set seed. They also have to REALLY like where they are and have the correct pollinators to set good seeds. Most trillium seed is sterile but every once in a while....
This set of pictures show a population of Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout Lily) in my back yard. This is the same population that was shown in a previous blog when just a few leaves were peeking through the leaf litter. They started out ONLY under the ladder and are beginning to head up the little slope and further up into the trees! They will flower again this year and have been in the ground for over 9 years!

The Spring Beauty are also up out of the ground and flowering! They are Claytonia virginica and are wonderful little plants. They will also spread but are very delicate and need some good rotting humus or an old rotting stump nearby. I have actually planted these next to an old stump that we acquired from a neighbor when they were cutting down some trees years ago. I 'planted' the stumps in various locations around the gardens and they are slowly rotting away. In the meantime they are great places to plant natives that do well in woodlands - just make sure your stumps are from native trees! Near the Spring Beauties are the Jeffersonia diphyllum, also known as Twinleaf. These are VERY hard to find little natives and are named after our third president. They are gorgeous little plants but also need that special touch of rich humus and good drainage.

Next are some pictures from my swale area in the back yard which stays very wet through most of the spring and summer. On the small slope that I made next to the house is a Leucothoe fontanesiana or Drooping Leucothoe, a great native shrub for a moist, wet area. It will grow in dryer soil but does best in a moist environment. It is getting so big that it is beginning to overshadow the trillium that are planted there, so once the soil firms up a bit, I will be moving the trillium to a new location! Next to the house is a huge bed of Wild Ginger, Asarum canadensis. This wonderful little native is a great groundcover. This clump started as a small 1 gallon container full of asarum and in a few years has grown to the large clump you see here.

The Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptans) is getting ready to flower and so is the Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).Matter of fact, here is one of the first Celandine poppy flowers for this year!

A few more pictures of some other plants, including a Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) just popping out of the ground.

A Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) that flew in from another part of the garden growing below a birdbath!

Some of my Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon meadia), both the species and the cultivar 'Alba'.

For this next set of pictures, it will look like the first one is just a shot of some leaf litter but it is actually a population of Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout Lily) in my front garden. This population is going wild throughout the beds and should be full of flowering plants this year. The second picture is of one of the 'mature' plants (two leaves) that should flower this spring!If you click on the picture of the 'leaf litter' you can see the little trout lily leaves poking through the leaves. Click on the little 'magnifying glass' that shows up when you move your cursor over the picture for a better look at the little trout lily leaves. Do you see them? The population continues past the tree to the left and about ten feet beyond.

The last set of pictures is of Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). One thing about Marsh Marigold that is listed in most of the nursery catalogs is that this plant needs a 'running stream' to do well. Not really! I put one plant in the ground several years ago in the swale on my side yard that I had turned into a wet garden (they are now known as 'rain gardens') to soak up the runoff from the rain and take a look! It only gets water when it rains and I don't remove the leaf litter from around the plants; they just have to make it on their own and I think they are doing OK!
That's all for now, but stay tuned! As the trillium begin to flower and the Jacob's Ladder and Celandine Poppies begin to 'show their stuff', I will be back with more pictures of these wonderful Spring Ephemerals!


  1. Hard to believe the wildflowers here are at the same stage of growth. We're having a freakishly early spring and things are a good month ahead of time. Coltsfoot, Hepaticia, Spring Beauty and Blue Cohosh are in bloom. The Trout Lilies and Trilliums are leafed out and getting close. I'll have to check out the marsh mariglods down the road and see how they're doing today.

  2. HI!
    This is the normal time of year for our spring ephemerals. We are having record warm weather here but in Delaware we learn quickly to expect anything! We are in a transition zone and are also on the edge of the Piedmont. We have some of the most beautiful green, green spring and summer seasons - I just love to hear about other gardeners who can experience the wonder of our native plants More pics coming this week showing more plants in flower and more things peeping up through the ground!