Regular readers know I don't like to make predictions, but in spite of our recent wintry weather I am fairly confident in predicting that spring really will arrive sometime before June.Actually, before last week's snowstorm my daffodils were ready to burst forth. They were about two inches high and made me think of a runner on the starting block, ready to leap. As soon as this snow melts I predict a surge of growth in our gardens.But that's as far as I'm going to take that prediction. I'm still waiting to see how our perennials and shrubs made it through the winter. So far things look fairly promising but remember last January when it was 60 degrees? Plants that came out of dormancy may have been damaged so we still just have to wait and see.
In addition to the non-native daffodils, all kinds of native wildflowers will soon be popping up, too. It's tricky because you need to be careful walking on the soft ground in your hunt to see native wildflowers. Always stay on the paths if you're on a trail and take pictures only, no plant samples! The woodland wildflowers are quite fussy about their growing site so do not collect them from the wild.In addition to depleting the native population and violating various trespass laws, most wildflowers dug from the wild die from the shock so it's a waste of time and plant. A few are protected from collection but it's not a good idea to collect any woodland wildflowers, even if they aren't protected. Plants grown in nursery pots will be much better able to recover from transplant shock and adapt to your site than those dug from the wild.Woodland wildflowers are gorgeous. But any flowers you pluck will wilt before you get home. They are fussy plants and make very poor cut-flowers. And, by removing the flower, you are removing the plant's chance at reproduction and survival. So bring your camera and take lots of pictures but please leave the flowers and the plants where they are!
If you'd like to add wildflowers to your yard or garden, purchase them from nurseries and ask to make sure they are propagated plants, rather than plants collected from the wild. Some of our local nurseries carry woodland wildflowers as well as the New England Wildflower Society's Garden in the Woods. An excellent, very readable book is: "The New England Wildflower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers" by William Cullina. The author is the nursery manager and propagator at the Society, which is one of the best known plant conservation organizations in North America.
In addition to walking on our many local hiking trails looking for flowers in bloom, a great way to learn more is to visit botanic gardens where plants are labeled and lots of information is available. The Montreal Botanic Garden is an amazing resource and makes an easy day trip for our region. New York City has wonderful botanic gardens both in Brooklyn and the Bronx.One of the best known collections of native wildflowers is not that far from us. It's the aforementioned New England Wildflower Society. Don't be put off by New England, their mission is to study and protect all wildflowers in temperate North America. They are located just west of Boston in Framingham and have a 45-acre living museum featuring over 1,500 native species of plants called "The Garden in the Woods." They have bog, woodland, pine barren, alpine and pond plantings as well as classes and an extensive list of publications. Visit their Web site at http://www.newfs.org.