Monday, March 05, 2012

Thoughts of Spring

Monday, May 5, 2012

A surprise this morning after days of rain, wind and snow. The temperature was close to zero for some time and then as the sun rose and the winds came up, stopped, started again, stopped, the temps bounced up and down around zero degrees as last night's snow drifted powder-like from tree branches everywhere. March in Vermont is not like many other places in America and here it's still a long time before the weather warms and we see flowers. In contrast, the southern east coast is seeing apple and cherry blossoms and wildflowers, none of which are even thinking of breaking dormancy here.

Down around South Carolina and Georgia there are reports of trilliums coming into bloom. I love trilliums and always have. As a kid growing up in Woodstock the only one we regularly saw was Trillium erectum and it wasn't until many years later that I even knew that Stinking Benjamins had a real name. It was even later in life that one of Gail's friends told be she knew them as Nosebleeds. Regardless of the name, and there are many, many other common names, they are still a great wild flower.

Every August I pluck firm seed pods and crush them between my fingers and then with one finger, I make a hole and push the whole, broken pod full of seeds into the ground and cover. A couple years later the germination is obvious and four to six years after that there is the start of a nice colony complete with small flowers. The next picture shows some 3-4 year old seedlings I dug to line out and also pot up for future sales. You will notice a horizontal rhizome-like root at the bottom of each stem. As the plants mature past age 7-8 years, you can dig these in the spring and slice them in half to increase production. They root well and are quicker to produce nice flowers than by starting seed.

These pictures show the 3-4 year old seedlings, split out of a clump, in a clump and then leafing out in one of our gardens.

There are three native growing trilliums in Vermont although many of the 52 varieties found in North America will grow here. In New England there is a fourth native only found in Maine. In order below here are grandiflorum, erectum and undulatum. Each has it's own requirements but they will grow any place in New England. The yellow luteum at the start of this page is likewise a non native but it too will do well here.

So as winter snows turn to spring rains, give some thought to greater use of wild flowers in and around your property. Trilliums are fun to grow and still bring a lot of "What is that's?"

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the snow in the driveways tells me that I need to plow before Gail gets back home at 1. Use care on the roads and give thought to your gardens. Drop us a line with questions and we'll try to make your gardening in 2012 more successful. We are always glad to help you grow your green thumb!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm


AmyO said...

Hi George...Great post on Trillium! One of my most favorite wildflowers! I start pots full of seed every year and so look forward to seeing their noses poking up through the forest duff.
When You slice the rhizomes in half, do you treat the cut with anything? I wondered did they ever get infected with any fungal problems!
thanks for this post!

Kim said...

Hi George~Love the trillium post. There is always so much to learn from your posts---most enjoyable!
~Kim C.