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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Beauties Spring Forth

Welcome to my 100th post!  I live on 2 acres which were once woodland but the Douglas firs were logged by the PO and the stumps were either burned and  buried in places, where the ground subsides as they rot, or left behind, blocking mowing and encouraging weedy blackberry vines.  Massive logs were left behind our shop, slowly breaking down over the last 20 years.  The woodland plants were scraped away and replaced with grass, except for a few little islands of native plants left- Salal, Oregon Holly Grape, Thimbleberry, Salmonberry, Blackcap Raspberry, Stinging Nettle, and many more, as here-

 The seeds and tubers of Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica, are widespread in our soil, and in some cases just mulching heavily with leaves in fall is sufficient to kill off weeds and allow them to sprout.  Here is an example under some Hazelnut trees we planted in what had been a weedy grassy area.
You may notice the squirrels have made sure there was not a single nut left for us on the trees, they eat them before they are even ripe.   Ditto for nuts from English Walnuts, Heartnuts, Trazels, and Turkish Hazelnuts I have planted, and finally the Peach-Almond trees whose nuts had such hard shells they didn't discover them for awhile.  The one advantage of this is that they leave my apple trees alone until really late in the season.

You may despair of having wild plants appear in your yard but I read of an experiment where they took a tract house that had a lawn for 40-60 years? and they killed off the grass with mulch, then watched plants emerge over time, pulling the weeds and leaving any native plants.  Slowly a wide variety of native plants appeared from seeds dormant in the soil.    Burning would probably facilitate this but may be illegal now in many parts of the country.   Many prairie and woodland species are adapted to having seed dormancy that is broken by heat, scarification, and smoke.    I succeeded in germinating some seed by burning twigs and then putting water on the ashes and using it to water newly planted seeds.   The ones with no smoke treatment didn't sprout at all.

We have Trilliums that bloom every spring in lovely clumps, and I have tried to spread the seeds around, as well as seeds of Salal and Oregon Holly Grape, with no success.

But one year my husband reroofed our pump house, and left the roof on the ground there next to Trilliums that bloom.  When he pulled up the roof the next spring, we were amazed to see the ground covered thickly with Trillium seedlings!   One seed starting guide I saw recommended covering seed beds planted in the fall to allow chilling of the seeds with burlap or sheets over winter, perhaps that would act like the roof in keeping the seeds moister and protected.

I wish you success in perhaps beginning to introduce some native plants to your landscaping, plants that can take care of themselves, fit in with your local weather conditions, and provide food and habitat for you and for your pollinators and predators.



  1. That's so very's amazing how different plants have evolved over time to have such different germination requirements.

  2. That is a gorgeous clump of our native Trillium ovatum. I planted two Claytonia a couple of years ago, and the next year I had a thick carpet of them. I'm still pulling the seedlings every year. They're cute little flowers, but I don't want that many.

    1. I've read that the Claytonia make little edible tubers tasting like potatoes or chestnuts. I keep meaning to try digging some up to see.....

  3. Your native plants are beautiful, lovely to see how you are allowing them to return.

    The original owners of our house left the native soil untouched in the back and it opens to undeveloped property so we are pulling the weeds and keeping the best of the natives in much of the area.

    1. Yes, I really enjoy having some natives left here, and especially the ones I can use for food or herbs. Your climate is really different, so your natives are a lot different too, very interesting. Have you found some you can use?