While during the spring season, many people are captivated by the stunning array of cherry blooms and saucer magnolia blossoms, garden enthusiasts look for little gems that appear just for a brief moment in spring. The best garden on campus to discover these spring garden gems is the Terry Shane Teaching Garden. Here our curator, Andrew Bunting, and our intern are always stashing little treasures for you to enjoy.
A small native plant with a brief but memorable show in the spring is Sanguinaria canadensis. The pristine white flowers are pollinated by small flying insects during the early spring. Sanguinaria canadensis gets its common name, bloodroot, because when the roots are cut they “bleed” a red sap. The uniquely-textured foliage goes dormant in mid to late summer.
A naturalized collection can be seen blooming in the Meetinghouse Woods, but for the attractive cultivar S. ‘Multiplex’ visit the Terry Shane Teaching Garden. This double form of our native bloodroot has large white blooms which last longer in the landscape because the flowers are sterile. Be sure to stop by soon to experience this selection because the unseasonable warm weather will make this plant disappear early.
The Terry Shane Teaching garden also hosts several unique Arisaema or jack –in-the-pulpit. Creating quite a fuss right now is Arisaema tosaense. This species originates from Shikoku Islands in Japan. In our spring gardens, A. tosaense towers over other woodland spring ephemerals reaching 30 inches tall. The “pulpit” or spathe is a translucent green with white striping.
Another distinctive flower garnering a lot attention in the Terry Shane Teaching garden is Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’. In March, our intern, Sam Keitch, trimmed the foliage of this Carex to remove the battered winter leaves. As a result, tall spikes of the Carex flower are stumping garden visitors.
C. ‘Variegata’ is traditionally grown for its attractive variegated foliage. Like other Carex, it is a durable sedge that provides texture and interest throughout the season. Carex are rarely noticed for their flowers because the small inconspicuous blooms are normally barely visible through the foliage. Since the foliage was trimmed because of winter damage, the singular, distinctive flower stalks are eye-catching among the other newly emerging plants.
As a result of our summer-like weather, the spring ephemeral season is shorter than usual. Stop by the Terry Shane Teaching garden to discover some garden gems for yourself. Oh yeah, don’t forget to look up and enjoy the cherry blossoms and magnolia blooms too.