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#BotanistLens: Stewardship of ephemeral wildflowers in mesic woodlands of London Town

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Nestled between large Tulip Poplars, Red Oaks, Black gum, Dogwoods and Viburnums, are precious wildflowers found in the woodland gardens of London Town. Mesic woods have well drained soils, not too wet or too dry. Shade is dense and deep, allowing room for only those that can withstand the shade and moisture.

The most beautiful time to see these woods are now in spring when the delicate wildflowers fill the woodland floor. Making most of the sunlight reaching the ground through the mosaic of branches before they leaf out, the ephemerals are a crucial food source for the pollinators. Fleeting time makes it even more difficult to capture their beauty.

London Towns woodland gardens is a treasure cove of several ephemerals such as Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), May Apples (Podophyllum peltatum), Snakes head (Fritillaria meliagris), Lungwort (Pulmoaria officnalis), Blood root (Sanguinearia canadensis) and many more.

Most precious of all these is the Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) named in honor of Thomas Jefferson. A true ephemeral with flowers lasting only for a day. Stewardship of these precious ephemerals is key to creating harmonious sustainable habitats.

London Town gardens are lucky to have dedicated volunteers who care for these delicate habitats every week. One such stellar volunteer, Beverly Rogers recently noticed the location of dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) flower which is hard to capture in the fleeting time window it emerges. The flower is petite, not fragrant and can very easily go unnoticed. But thanks to Beverly, what we thought was lost, was captured again! Panax is a crucial indicator of a mesic woodland. Our garden volunteers are true stewards of the land.

Stewardship of the land and stewardship of precious plants can be done anywhere, with or without woods. Come and capture the beauty of these precious wildflowers of London Towns woodland gardens on this Earth Day weekend. Ephemeral woodland treasures, Tulips, Azaleas, Camellias, dogwoods are happily in bloom and all ready to inspire the land steward in you! Happy Earth Day weekend!


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