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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Front Garden Late April 2014 - It's Been a VERY Busy Month.

It has been a very busy month in my gardens with the wonderful cool weather and rain at least once a week. My spring ephemerals are flowering and the trees are beginning to leaf out with flowers soon to follow. I took some pictures early this month and then as I got into my gardens - front and back gardens - I found that I was spending full days out in the sun and cool weather pulling weeds and digging up wild onions. Here is a picture that I took just today and it is of an ever-growing population of Uvularia grandiflora (large flowered bellwort)
growing under my Chionanthus virginicus (White Fringetree). She is a female tree (Chionanthus are dioecious - male and female) and she is gorgeous when in flower. This population of Uvularia grandiflora started from one plant bought at a native plant nursery about 7 years ago and continues to expand every year. The flowers are a soft yellow and are at the tops of each plant. They face down and are wonderful to view up close.
The Erythronium americanum (Yellow Toad Lily) have already flowered and the population continues to spread throughout my garden. I have three other populations in my back gardens and they are older and larger than this population so they have more flowers and flower a bit longer than this population.
I have had friends ask me why I grow plants that are so small and last for such a short time in the garden and my answer always is to show them the plants close up - get on your knees for a minute or two in your garden to really see your plants. They are amazing and so gorgeous all on their own. No cultivars, no varieties, just the species that grow and reproduce even without a human to view them. What better reason to grow these plants? There are some other early ephemerals that are also flowering right now in my garden and they are all trilliums. I did my Masters thesis on trillium species and they are probably my favorite spring ephemeral. They are not easy to grow and must have exacting soil and water situations to grow well and even better conditions to set seed. Seeds must fall into places that are perfect for germination and I have been lucky enough to have some of those requirements in my garden and here is just a small set of new seedlings from this year
These are immature Trillium sessile plants and will take up to 5-7 year to flower. Here is the mother plant surrounded by small trillium sessile plants that could be from seeds or might be growing from the mother rhizome.
Other trillium that are growing in my front gardens are Trillium grandiflorum
and Trillium luteum - one of the yellow trillium
There are also Dodecatheon media (Shooting Star), Hepatica americana, Podophyllum peltatum (May Apple)and even a little Viola labridorica that has flown in from somewhere growing in my front garden that you can see in the pictures below. The last plant I want to show you today is Caltha palustris (Marsh marigold) that is known to be difficult to grow and these are growing in the swale that is on the other side of my driveway. I had to turn this area into a dry stream bed because it fills with water and flows like a rushing river every time it rains. I started with one small plant and I think I have a nice little population growing now. How exciting!
The annual vines are growing and are almost ready to be planted - more on them next week! Happy gardening and remember - April showers bring May flowers!

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