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.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Front Garden Late March 2014 - Finally the Snow is Gone!

Finally the snow is gone from my front garden and the bulbs are making an appearance. These are the daffodil bulbs that I planted over 20 years ago. Most of the bulbs are gone now, dug up as I planted and re-planted this area after removing all of the grass in our front yard. (that was an amazing process!) Now these are the first to flower these days and they tell me that my spring ephemerals are not far behind. CLICK ON THIS FIRST PICTURE TO SEE CLOSE UPS OF THE ENTIRE SET OF PHOTOGRAPHS ON A SEPARATE SCREEN. As you can see in these pictures, I do not add bark mulch to my front garden. Why would I do that if I have native trees in my garden that give me wonderful mulch every fall? It has taken 20 years to get my oak leaf layer to this level because throughout the year, the oak leaves will degrade and add much needed carbon to the soil. It also allows for the growth of microbes and fungi that are important in the growth of native plants without the need for fertilizers, plant food, or pesticides. Look at that multi-layer of oak, maple, and carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam) leaves, they are there to warm the soil in the winter yet allow much needed water to filter through to the resting plants under this life-giving mulch. Now that the daffodils are flowering, I will 'cheat' a bit and move some of the leaf mulch aside and look for the first leaves of new growth but this year I didn't have to move any mulch. As I walked out into my front garden, I can see the Pachysandra procumbens leaves greening up through the leaf mulch. This is our east coast native pachysandra and it is evergreen with the new leaves unfurling from under the older, larger leaves. You can see the Pachysandra leaves next to the arrows in the picture. This is not the fast growing Japanese pachysandra that takes over any landscape where they are planted, but it is the native,deep shade, slow-growing pachysandra that adds to the landscape instead of taking over your landscape. I like to plant our native pachysandra near trillium plants so the trillium will grow up through the pachysandra. As I am standing in the garden taking pictures of the pachysandra, I look down and see some of the first leaves of the gorgeously beautiful Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout Lily). As stated in its common name, this is one of our native lily plants and to say that it is difficult to grow is an understatement. They grow from bulbs and can take up to 7 years to flower but only if they are in an environment that mimics their native habitat. They will also 'travel' throughout your garden and will pop up in the most wonderful places. These little leaves (next to the arrows)are part of a 10 year old population that started on the opposite side of the tree from where these leaves are now growing. I got my first flowers from this population only 3 years ago and I can't wait to take pictures of their flowers this year. As I was walking back out of the garden, I saw the first of my Dodecatheon media (Shooting Star) rosettes pushing up through the leaf mulch, soon they will have gorgeous white flowers that stand high above the leaves. So! My garden is starting to awaken for this spring and I am excited to continue to mark the changing of the seasons in my front garden. I have also planted the seeds for the annual vines that are going on my tobacco lath fence this year. Here they are in a 'mist room' in a soilless media mix called 'Pro-Mix'. More on how to germinate these seeds in my next blog! For now, get out into your gardens and see if you can find an area for growing native plants!!!!!

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