As my garden continues to transform and fade into the winter, I am already looking forward to the early days of spring when the Ephemerals begin to emerge. Ephemerals are what garden-types call the small set of plants that grow, bloom and die away in the fastest and most fleeting sort of way. The most common of these are the spring ephemerals — which are the next blooms we will see creeping out of the ground after the winter has passed.
The spring ephemerals are the truest harbingers of spring. They generally aren't forced, and many are wildflowers whose roots (pardon the pun) are in being woodland wildflowers. These plants have adapted to take advantage of the short period of time when the ground has warmed but the leaves of the overhanging trees haven't yet emerged to block out the sunlight that they need.
Here are a few tips for those of you who might like to move beyond daffodils and tulips this spring by trying out ephemerals:
1) Buy them now — ephemerals, like spring bulbs, are shipped in the fall and are planted now.
2) The best way to bring Ephemerals into your garden repertoire is to plant them in a place that most closely resembles their native habitat. Plant them amongst ferns or hostas who will shade, protect and hide them as they quickly die away.
3) Consider the time of year when determining the planting location. Ephemerals can emerge when there might still be snow on the ground or at the very least when woodland paths are muddy. If you want to enjoy your cultivated ephemerals, think about what parts of your garden are accessible at this time of the year and plant them nearby.
I picked a handful of my favorites in this group that you might want to try.
- Thalictrum thalictroides
- Trillium grandiflora
- Mertensia virginica (Bluebells)
- Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
- Stylophorum diphyllum