Wow! What a difference a week makes. Our bloom list has grown from a few species to over twenty! The short trail garden has the most to offer this week. The bloodroot (Sangunaria canadensis) is everywhere! This will probably be the last week to see it as many of the petals are already dropping. The twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) has just begun to bloom. Like bloodroot, it doesn’t last very long. So, if you want to see it, come visit us soon. If you miss it, don’t worry. Many other wildflowers remain in bloom for more than a few short weeks. I saw the first of the Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), the Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens), and the Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) (which always reminds me of pants hanging on a clothesline) open up this week. The real surprise was the squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis). Although this wildflower has been in the garden for a number of years, it only blooms sporadically. This is a good year to see it if you have never come across it during your walks in the woods.
As I walked down to the flower cobbles plants are poking through the leaves along the lower trail. The cinnamon fern fiddleheads are just getting ready to emerge. I can hear the birds singing their spring songs and the buds are swelling on the trees – I notice the red maple with its bright red flowers popping out along the way. It is cooler by the flower cobble so fewer wildflowers have emerged. There is twinleaf in these gardens as well – white flowers topping reddish-purple foliage. As spring progresses the leaves will turn a nice green color. Here I also see the sharp lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba) in bloom. Along the pine barren trail there is leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) and pyxie moss (Pyxidanthera barbulata) just starting to bloom. The pyxie moss is only about an inch high so you have to look close to the ground to find it! These tiny flowers are native to New Jersey and are a real treat to see.
Please keep an eye on our bloom list to see what is new in the Norcross gardens. Plants are on the list from the first flower that opens until they are just about finished. Checking our lists regularly will ensure you have a chance to see our wildflowers, both common and rare.
Garden Tip: Now is a good time to do soil tests in your home garden. Whether you are growing wildflowers, perennials, vegetables or just lawn, periodic soil tests will help you decide what kind and how much fertilizer or compost you may need to use to improve the soil health in your garden. Soil tests are most important for vegetable gardens or for problem spots. To have these tests done, contact your local soil extension service at the University of Massachusetts or the University of Connecticut for instructions and testing.