Each spring as temperatures warm, there is a narrow window of weather suitable for plant growth prior to tree leaf out. During this time, the forest understory begins to awaken as some of our earliest emerging native plants take advantage of the unique conditions.
Earlier this week, I was visiting a neighbor and noticed an eye-catching plant in rare form for this time of year. It was filled with abundant red blooms that almost glowed against the backdrop of green leaves behind it. Whorls of the tiny flowers filled the spiky stalks that jutted out in all directions, creating a display that no human or pollinator could miss.
As the last asters of the year are wrapping up their flower display and monarchs are migrating through to more southern latitudes, spring flowers aren’t always at the center of attention for most gardeners. However, now is the time to set the stage for some of the most beautiful and early blooms of spring.
Fall is actually the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs. These amazing plant structures are tiny powerhouses of energy that can be planted now to explode with flowers and foliage as spring temperatures awaken them next year.
Fall flowers are some of the best of the year since they take a whole season of waiting to finally display their splendor. Beyond their beauty, they provide a valuable food source for pollinators late in the growing, which can be especially important for migrating species such as the monarch butterfly.
Landscaping is typically designed to provide functional beauty to our yards and community spaces by brightening up the build environment with plant life. While beauty can lie in the form of interesting foliage, brilliant fall color, or unique growth habit, flowers are always the showstoppers of the growing season. In fact, many gardeners plan their entire landscape based on flowering displays.
It is always interesting to observe plant diseases and try to unravel the mystery of how a particular plant became infected and to look toward solutions. So many of these ailments have an incredibly fascinating path to infection, often including multiple species when you consider the pathogen, host and potential vector species.
This past Saturday, we celebrated 15 new graduates of our Master Naturalist Training. The graduation day festivities included group presentations to showcase outreach projects they worked together to develop over the past few months. There were some very well-developed projects presented, and all did a great job of relating science and nature to their target audience.
The plant kingdom has not always had the diversity we know today. It has taken hundreds of millions of years of evolution to bring about the diverse, complex group of flowering plants known as angiosperms. And for many millions of years prior to the emergence of angiosperms, the plant kingdom consisted of primarily of gymnosperms.
Over the past 200 years or so, orchids have went from a mysterious and challenging plant, barely sustained in cultivation, to a fixture in many homes and businesses. Today, easy-care varieties of these beautiful flowering houseplants can be purchased just about anywhere, including the supermarket checkout lane. In the last decade, plants in the orchid family have become highest selling potted plants in the US horticulture industry, exceeding the previous leader, poinsettias.
Although spring was late coming this year, it has finally sprung, and with it both star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) are in bloom. These beautiful ornamental trees, native to Asia, provide about a month of spectacular flowers each spring. They are some of the first landscape plants in our area to deliver such a showy display; truly one of the most endorsing signs that spring is finally here.