Monday, April 27, 2009
Tired of me yet?
OK, it would certainly be ridiculous to complain about a self-imposed mandate... but it is hard to upkeep a phenology blog at this time of year. So much is happening so quickly! Certain things I have just entirely written off. I figure that gives me something to write about next year, when my loyal readers have read all about the bloodroot and the may apples... they will have read nothing of the pussy willow of the birch! Anyhow, I had planned to write about some of the things I observed in my mom's yard last night (I still will), but then this morning, I saw several other noteworthy things to write about as well.
As I believe I have previously mentioned, my parents' yard in Highland Park contains a wealth of native woodland stock. Without trying, they get wildflowers popping up -- right in the middle of the lawn, (and sometimes, unfortunately, under the blade of the lawnmower). It's their whole area. The house across the street... when I was growing up, it was a blue house and the whole front yard was a little forest. No grass at all. It had bloodroot and black raspberries and I don't remember what all else. The house was totally remodeled and new people moved in; the yard for a little more tailored over time but kept its natural qualities. About a year ago, the house sold again. The new owners have destroyed everything but the trees. Under and around them is all wood chips. There were bloodroot in there that were in huge clumps, like how I dream of mine someday being. Criminal. And speaking of criminal... I should have dug it up in the middle of the night when I had the chance! Would have, if I'd known the new people would destroy them.
So without doing any sort of planting or thieving, searching for woodland natives (which are much harder to come by than prairie natives), or any work at all, my mom's yard has a field of trout lilies, which are blooming. They have spread into the lawn and survived living under canoes. (Last year, we transplanted several to my yard, due to the canoe factor. Only one tiny leaf came back in my yard. Where the canoes used to be, you can't even tell we took any. (The canoes now have a lovely rack, btw.)) Embedded parentheses, how about that?!?
Their yard also has spring beauties by the hundreds, anemones in large numbers (pictured below left), trillium, and Virginia waterleaf. Later it will have jewelweed, and I always remember wild onions but I don't know if those still come back.
Of course, they also have their problems. Buckthorn stayed away for a long while, but recently made its debut and is there in full force. They have poison ivy by the side of the house! And, as seen above right, they gots the garlic mustard -- which I did pull after photographing. This particular invasive biennial is not a problem in my yard, and I count myself lucky. (When I moved in, I had a small clump of it. I pulled it out and haven't seen any more since!) You might think that since it's not a perennial and since it's pretty easy to weed with the root included, that it wouldn't be that much of a problem. Wrong. It makes a million seeds, and that's hardly an exaggeration. But worse, it poisons the soil where it lives. Mustards are some of the only plants that don't rely upon tiny invisible fungi in the soil for survival. Our native mustards don't need them, but live among them. Garlic mustard, on the other hand, lets out a fungicide from its roots, killing the stuff that makes the soil hospitable to other plant life. Not a good neighbor. And the only thing that really eats it? People. That's how it got here in the first place, as a culinary herb. Oops. And people aren't eating it anymore. So in a week or so, all the roadsides will be decorated with this innocent-looking but evil white flower. Time for a weeding party!
On to my own digs.
The fern forest that takes over part of my yard made its emergence sometime this weekend. (This is just the cutest stage in a fern's life cycle, no?) These ferns take over the area, out-competing almost everything else -- including other native ferns I have planted. But they are pretty and low maintenance, so I'm not complaining. They thrive in the shade of my box elders, and they actually do an OK job at keeping the buckthorn in check.
And each day, I notice other emergences in the yard, such as, this morning, Joe Pye Weed (pictured below), some blazing stars (not below because, honestly, all these emerging plants look really similar), Bellwort (also below). Also trillium almost flowering (below) and prairie alumroot (emerged awhile ago...)