Friday, April 29, 2016

The Winter Coat Spring

A nearby Pear in Bloom

     It is now the end of April and it still feels like early November. We have had about three beautiful days and one day that broke  80 degrees.But mostly it has been wet and miserable... for us at least. Except from some magnolias whose buds were nipped by a cold night, most of our plants are liking the slow start to the season.

A neighbor's Crabapple

     The other flowering trees that bloom a week or two later are happy as can be. In the yard my tulips are in their glory, while my Narcissus are still in great shape.

     One of my favorite flowers in spring and early summer is  Stylophorum diphyllum, AKA the wood  poppy. This plant has interesting leaves, very pretty yellow flowers, and, like all poppies, produces a latex-like yellow sap that the Indians once used as a dye. Wood  poppies like dappled shade and moist  loamy soil.  They need some local  encouragement. In Illinois they exist only in the far south counties and Cook County (Don't ask me how we lucked out.)

     While not yet an official endangered species, wood poppies are getting ever harder to find -- crowded out by loss of forest land and various European and Asian  invaders, like garlic mustard and Japanese still grass. Left to their own devices they spread quite easily. They are not subject to fungal and insect pests and mammals hate their taste.

          Our shady neighborhood could be a perfect home for this native if a few more of us plant it. So brighten up your day.

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