I arrived at Norcross in 1982. The trails had been expanded when the new visitor center was constructed around 1977. All of the gardens were still located down by the trailside museum and the (now) greenhouse which was the visitor center before the one we currently use.
In 1983 we began the Short Trail Garden. This is still, by far, my favorite garden in the Sanctuary.
We laid out the trails, spread cow manure in the beds and rototilled the garden in preparation for planting. Some of the first plants put into the garden were the American holly (Ilex opaca). We transplanted these as small to moderate trees putting all the female, berry bearing trees into the garden and a number of male plants around the outer edges for pollination. I kept a number of mature trees in the beds as well. My plan was similar to what Mr. Norcross and Fred Anderson had planned for the original gardens near the visitor center in 1969: Bring the plants seen around all the Sanctuary to an area close to the new visitor center so that everyone could enjoy the beauty of our collection.
I collected seeds in the fall of ’82 and started them in the brand new greenhouse. I had a number of plants ready to go – all seedlings, of course, but big enough to plant out. I dug maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) from other areas around the Sanctuary. We used to have a “Trillium pasture” out on the Sanctuary, but it was not thriving. I brought the different varieties of wakerobin from that area to the Short Trail. I also purchased a few plants for the garden over the years. It took some time for the garden to grow, some plants thrived, some did not, as is true with most gardens. Today, you would not believe the humble beginnings of many of these plants in the well-established garden and the American holly are now tall trees.[lightbox link=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/phlox-jack-e1463494872870.jpg” thumb=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/phlox-jack-300×200.jpg” width=”300″ align=”left” title=”phlox, jack” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]At this time in May the Short Trail is our most beautiful garden. It blooms earlier than any other garden because it faces south. The phlox has spread and seeded throughout, providing a great weed barrier, a beautiful spray of color and a light fragrance the wafts through the garden. All of our wakerobins (Trillium sp. – I counted 11 different ones) are safely growing behind the deer fence which was erected in the mid-1990s. There are some small yellow lady’s slippers, jacob’s ladder, golden star, goldenseal, and wild geranium. The giant solomon’s seal (spectacular just for its size), red and white baneberry, jack in the pulpit and three kinds of wild ginger. Even the ferns are interesting as they un-furl their fiddleheads in the garden.
This week is the time to see the Short Trail garden. Saturday, May 21st is Garden Open House. We will be giving guided garden tours every hour starting at 2pm with the last tour at 6pm. You may still walk our trails un-guided until 5:30 as well. Our extended hours on this day will allow many to visit our gardens during peak spring wildflower bloom.