Late Winter Gardening
The weather has been on the warm side lately, with a record high of 74 yesterday. The winter weeds are responding to the stronger sun and warmth: dandelions, common chickweed and hairy bittercress are blooming. At the District Office, I spent about an hour micro-weeding, mostly small vetches. The ground is moist but not soggy, and most perennials are still dormant, so it's a good time to transplant. I brought a clump of Blue Wild Indigo from home and spent another hour adding it to the Heritage Center garden. It probably won't grow enough this year, but by next year my hope is that it will provide some shade for the Wild Ginger on either side of it, which is in a too-sunny location at the east end of the building.
A few warm days was all it took for the mayapple to begin sprouting from its hiding places on the forest floor. Mayapple, or Mandrake, or Mayflower, is a native perennial common all over the eastern United States. The mayapple name is attributed to its apple-like (sort of) flower which develops in May. It is common in part because all parts of the plant are toxic, except the ripe fruit, so it is generally not disturbed during its brief growing season. That toxicity can be turned to advantage for us because a chemical in the plant is effective as a cancer treatment. Mayapple grows in patches because it propagates by underground rhizomes. It can successfully reproduce by seed, as well, especially when the fruit has been eaten by a box turtle and the seeds have passed through the turtle’s digestive tract.
Thoughts on the park, its residents and how to preserve its natural beauty.