Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Trolling For Trilliums

With a warm, windy day, the first bumble-bee popped out of its burrow and was bustling up the pathway, buzzing its wings to dry them for its first flight. I thought this was a good chance to get a close-up photo, but it was gone by the time I came back with my camera. This may be just as well, as I still remember as if it was yesterday, when as a four year old, I used a long stick to poke a bumble-bee as it was sunning on the spirea bush in the back yard. I made it half way to the back door before he caught me and stung me on the tip of my little finger, which swelled up to the size of a banana. There were new plants popping up everywhere in the garden today, but I was looking for trilliums, which seem tardy this year. I think I need to keep a garden journal, because I have a feeling I think the trilliums are tardy EVERY year, but more so this year. A couple of stalwarts shown above (underwoodii, the long bract wakerobin, and recurvatum, our prairie trillium) are just beginning to unfurl their leaves, but where are catasebaei, cuneatum, flexipes, grandiflorum, luteum, and all the other three-leaved jewels of the shady, moist nooks and crannies? I must confess I have a very bad habit of using my fingers to gently dig down and try to see if anything is going on, when some plant doesn't appear early enough for me. You would think I would know better after last spring. I had obtained a small bulb of Nomocharis, a rare and difficult lily relative, and had planted it the previous spring. It went dormant in August, preferring cooler climates, so I wasn't sure if it would come back,and so the following spring I gently dug down, and was thrilled to find a plump, healthy bulb. I carefully covered it back up with loose soil, but the next day I found my precious bulb (or the few crumbs that were left of it) lying on the ground, where a chipmunk had used my convenient tunnel to dig out the bulb and eat it.
I tell myself that there should be some point where I have enough different plants popping up in the spring that I don't fuss over one or the other, but so far I haven't reached that point, even though I'm at that stage now where little things sometimes pop up, and I have no idea what they are or where they came from. My dear Mother-in-law has a tiny garden, but she's always wondering about WHO planted the crocuses, or lilies, or whatever, that mysteriously continue to pop up in her garden. I know a couple were planted secretly by my Sister-in-law, but I've always wondered if some of these surprises weren't Wal-mart specials that my Mother-in-law bought and forgot about . I'm hoping that I'm not just an aging gardener who has progressivly more surprises to look forward to every spring. The cuty below mysteriously just appeared; I think it may just be an aconitum (monkshood) volunteer, but the leaf is quite different from any other aconitum in the garden. Hmmm.

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