May 27, 2023

Six 'Shrubs' on Saturday

lilac in front

I'm joining in with Garden RuminationsSix on Saturday meme: highlighting six things of note in the garden. We're having a beautiful May, with many plants blooming synchronously and holding their blooms because of cool (but not cold) nighttime temperatures.

With this post, I'm highlighting shrubs, shrub-like plants, and climbers.

highbush cranberry

1. The Highbush Cranberries (Viburnum trilobum) are in full bloom. These broad, tall native shrubs are great understory anchors at the edge of the woods.


2. Clematis 'Nelly Moser' climbs trellises at the back corners of the house. In full bloom, it's quite dramatic and welcomes hummingbirds and other pollinators.


3. Helleborus 'Sandy Shores' is setting seed, but it's still lovely. With broad, evergreen foliage, it adds a pleasant foundation structure to a very shady spot on the north side of the house.

bleeding heart

4. The Bleeding Hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) form small, shrub-like patches in several spots in the garden. Each clump is about three feet tall and four feet wide. They've been blooming for several weeks now.


5. Fred's 'Sweet Mary' Rose is preparing to bloom. In this photo, some Cottonwood (Populus deltoidesfluff is captured around the bud. This Rose cultivar was created by my paternal great-grandfather, as described in this post.


'Sweet Mary' isn't blooming yet this year, but when it does it looks like this, and the scent is intoxicating! It's a healthy shrub-like rose that takes little care other than annual pruning.


6. Finally, the Korean Lilacs (Syringa meyeri) are fabulous this year (also shown in the first photo of this post). Apparently, weather conditions and the previous year's pruning combined to bring out their best.

Best wishes for Americans celebrating Memorial Day, and happy new season transitions to all!

May 15, 2023

Woodland Wildflowers for May Bloom Day


For this bloom day, I'm focusing on a few ephemerals and wildflowers in our woodland at the back of our garden. Many other plants are blooming, but they'll have their day. In addition to the plentiful Violets (Viola spp., above) flourishing around the property, many other wildflowers are lovely this month.

Mertensia virginica

The Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are fading, but I captured a few pics before they were done.

Claytonia virginica

Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) have been blooming since early April! They're such a great native plant option to support pollinators at the beginning of the season.

Asarum canadense

While the Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) flaunts its heart-shaped foliage, its fascinating, fuzzy flowers hide underneath and support flies, beetles, ants, and some butterflies.

Arisaema triphyllum

Each year, I'm thrilled to welcome back the plentiful Jack-in-the-Pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum). They have such a unique form and are so at home in the back woods.

Trillium recurvatum

The Trilliums are in full bloom and seem very happy this spring. Prairie Trillium (T. recurvatum) hides under Oak leaf litter and ground cover, and always surprises me when it pops up in May.

Trillium grandiflorum

Each year since the drought in 2012, the Great White Trilliums (T. grandiflorum) have expanded around the property. They are so regal.

Trillium erectum

And, finally, the Red Trillium (T. erectum) graces its own special spot along the woodland edge.

It's a beautiful day and month in the garden! To enjoy other lovelies on this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, visit May Dreams Gardens

April 26, 2023

Celebrating Wood Betony
On This Wildflower Wednesday

lake kegonsa sp bud

Hiking this time of year is exciting in this part of the world. After the long, cold winter, wildflowers are emerging and the landscape is changing rapidly. On a recent hike, one of the new season plants we noticed was Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis). The foliage with its fern-like pattern has a reddish tint in the spring, which changes to green as the plant matures.

kettle moraine sp

I've seen this plant in several parts of Wisconsin, including Door County, Kettle Moraine State Forest, and Lake Kegonsa State Park, not far from my home. It seems to prefer woodland edges and prairies near woodlands. The plant and its yellow flowers are arranged in a spiral rosette with white hairs, making the flower stalk look fuzzy. It's a favorite of bumblebees in the early part of the growing season.

door county

Sometimes the blooms have a reddish brown tint, similar to the color of the spring foliage.

Other common names are Canadian Lousewort and Forest Lousewort, apparently because early colonizers believed that when cattle grazed on the plants they became infested with lice. This plant's native range covers most of the Eastern half of the United States.

If planning to incorporate it in a garden, it prefers full sun to part shade, mesic to dry conditions, and sandy to loamy soil that's somewhat acidic. It grows to 12 inches in height and tends to grow in colonies. It's partially parasitic, so it grows well with other native plants and grasses. Here in my area, it tends to bloom in April-May, but I've seen it still blooming in June further north.

lake kegonsa sp bloom

Soon the Wood Betony will be blooming prolifically in one of my favorite wildflower settings. The bees will be very happy, and so will I. Thanks to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday. Head on over to participate!

April 22, 2023

Six Ephemerals on Saturday

spring beauties buds

It's a crazy spring here in Southern Wisconsin! While April is always a variable month, it's been terribly dramatic this year. We had a week of summer-like weather (70s/80s F) the second week of the month, followed by wintry/early spring temps since. All the plants got going during the warm stretch, only to be covered in snow and cold weather the following week.

As we approach May, the forecast looks a little better. (Fingers crossed.) I'm joining in with Garden Ruminations' Six on Saturday meme: highlighting six things of note in the garden. The items I'm sharing are spring ephemeral plants that bloom for a short time in spring, and then fade.

Most shared here are long-time friends, planted by Mother Nature, that have appeared on our property every spring since we moved in two decades ago.

virginia bluebells

1. The exception is the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). I planted these because I like them. The conditions are right and they are native plants. The only challenge is that rabbits like to eat them. So...because the rabbits have few predators here, mine must be caged. The plants are starting to spread beyond the cages, so I've added native Alliums around them to help keep the rabbits at bay.

wild ginger

2. Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is thriving in and at the edge of the woods. The fuzzy foliage and tiny, bell-shaped red blooms at the base are enchanting.

virginia waterleaf

3. Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) is a happy groundcover that blooms a little later in the spring. I'm cheating just a bit with this one; it's not a true ephemeral, but the flowers bloom and fade quickly in May.

spring beauties

4. This has been the year for Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica). They've been blooming for a couple of weeks now: closing up during nighttime and cooler weather (see top photo), and re-bursting with pink pollen given warmth and sunshine.

red trillium

5. The Trilliums have emerged, which usually marks the end of nighttime freezing temps. While the Great White Trilliums (T. grandiflorum) have barely emerged, the Red Trilliums (T. erectum) (shown here) are just about to bloom.


6. Finally, the large patch of Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) is about to dominate its hillside at the back of our woodland. It's quite a dramatic transformation to see the "umbrella" foliage fully open.

Spring is here, even if it's taking two steps forward and one step back.