Compatible Companions: Woodland Flowers and Wildflowers, the Unintentional Delights of the Woods
Podophyllum peltatum, May Apple flower close up
Not a common sight in the trade, not much of common knowledge, wildflowers refer literally to the 'flowers of the wild' that weren't planted intentionally. Handful of the wildflowers have made it to the retail nurseries and only some are of common knowledge. 'Woodland flowers' sometimes aren't well known either, exotic or native they are a much needed base layer for the woods.
Restored site with woodland perennials filling up the base layer with ease
Their significance in a habitat is huge, their impact on the interdependent species is enormous and the 'unintentional' impact on erosion control and preventing nutrient wash off is tremendous, but they are rather less appreciated and known.
Let's look at three wildflowers and woodland flowers that are now adorning the woods of London Town: Trillium recurvatum (Prairie Trillium), Podophyllum peltatum (May Apples) and Corydalis lutea (Yellow Larkspur).
Trillium recurvatum, prairie Trillium
Trillium recurvatum, prairie Trillium, is a rather delightful perennial. But it is not restricted only to prairies as the name suggests. The marron-red flowers, make them easy to ID and Trillium refers to 'tri- three leaves'. T. recurvatum has blotched green leaves, making it easy for them to camouflage in the woods, as if they are awakening from the dormancy.
Growing Trilliums needs ample patience even for the experienced gardeners, for it takes 2 years for seeds to germinate and 4 years to bloom. So when you see Trilliums in bloom, they deserve more than a glance. Woods adorning Trilliums in bloom are a sight to behold. London Town has over 5 different species of Trilliums that are in bloom!
Podophyllum peltatum, May Apple leaf close up
May Apples, Podophyllum peltatum is the only genus in the family Berbidaceae. The leaves are umbrella shaped, flopping down, protecting the solitary flowers producing seeds, and why not? The flowers have only one dispersal agent, the Box Turtles. But they spread easily by underground rhizomes and can fill a woodland easily by vegetative methods.
Corydalis lutea leaf
Corydalis lutea, yellow larkspur, is a delightful, delicate woodland flower that fills up base canopy layers with easy. They are a good layer for shade rock gardens or cottage gardens, their delicate floppy blooms are their best feature.
Corydalis filling up a restored woodland site
In one of the restoration sites at London Town, Corydalis, Trilliums and May Apples have come back in reassuring numbers, an indication that soils are still rich, the woods are healthy and most of all, the hard work of volunteers in removing the invasives has paid off very well! Restored grounds and healthy habitats are a start to a beautiful garden.