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.

April 14, 2023

Garden Excitement Inside and Out

Spring Things
Early blooms: Helleborus, Narcissus, Scilla, Chionodoxa

Spring is finally happening, and it's happening fast. The blooms in this first photo are still going, but with several days in the 80sF, they're fading. This is very unusual April weather for us.

SF Mix Zinnia

The plants in the sunroom are happy, too, including the 'State Fair Mix' Zinnias (Z. elegans) in pots, which I'll plant outside in early May.


Yellow Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeidiana) has been blooming for weeks--such a vibrant color and form.

Calla Lilies

I was worried about the overwintered Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia spp.), but they're coming on strong now. I hope they'll bloom again this summer.

Passion Flower

The potted Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) is happy, as well. It bloomed last summer; I hope it will happen again.

Purple Shamrock Oxalis

Purple Shamrocks (Oxalis triangularis) planted with English Ivy (Hedera helix) have persisted for many years, spending winters indoors and summers outside.


'Cannova Rose' Cannas (C. indica) have been reaching for the sun for several weeks now.

Zinfandel Oxalis

Oxalis 'Zinfandel' (O. vulcanicola) is blooming like crazy. I so enjoy the purple foliage with the bright yellow blooms.

Marinka Fuchsia

My favorite Fuchsia, 'Marinka' has performed very well this winter. I trimmed back the plants in both pots, and they've come on strong, starting to bloom just in time for the return of the hummingbirds.

Grape Hyacinths

I won't be able to keep up with the changes outside much longer, so I'm only sharing a few bloomers at this point. Among them, Grape Hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) are showing their stuff.

Spring Beauties

The Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) I planted from seeds collected the woods in back are very happy in their new location near the house.

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) haven't been scarfed down by the rabbits yet. Some of them are caged, so that will help.

Red Riding Hood Tulips

And of course the 'Red Riding Hood' Tulips (Tulipa greigii) are caged, or they'd be eaten for sure. They'll be blooming very soon.

Red Admiral

With all the new blooms outdoors, many butterflies have returned, including this Red Admiral nectaring on Pachysandra (P. terminalis).

So much more to come in the weeks ahead! I hope your spring is pleasant, too. Best wishes for season ahead!

(Linking in to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens, even though I'm a day early. Thanks, Carol. :)  )

April 05, 2023

Blooms, Buds, and Raindrops

winter aconite
Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

snowdrops 1
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno')

hellebore 1
Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)

hellebore 2
Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)

hellebore 3
Hybrid Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus 'Sandy Shores')

snowdrops 2
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

Tommies (Crocus tommasinianus)


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