Here Come the Spring Ephemerals

Today, while puttering around, I noticed this little trillium among the leaf litter in what we call the wildflower area of our garden. Trilliums are ephemerals, coming up very early while the trees are still leafless, disappearing during our long, hot summers. But, during their short stay, we treasure the beauty of these (and other) Spring wildflowers.
spring ephemerals

Remove leaf litter to allow spring ephemerals, like this trillium, to emerge with ease.

This trillium kicked me into high gear. I had deep leaf litter smothering the ground. This I removed down to an inch or so. I had winter damaged foliage on perennials and ferns that needed removing, so I took care of that, too. All the while being careful not to stomp on the emerging trilliums. In another week or so, it will be impossible to clean this mess up without damaging emerging ephemerals. I always seem to be caught out, thinking “not yet, too cold, too soon.” The trillium let me know that NOW is the time to clean up this wildflower bed. I used to rely on the calendar, but these last few years I always seem to be caught out. Now I watch the plants for clues. Spring is just around the corner.

An outstanding selection of Spring ephemerals are available at the BBG Spring Plant Sale in the Native Plant Section for those who visit the sale early!

Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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