• Meenal Harankhedkar, Director of Horticulture

Green Thumbs: Intertwine with Nature: Avenues & Attractions are Ample


Arisamea ringens (Jack-in-the-pulpit)


Intertwine with nature for The Lorax is right that “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better. It’s not.” On Earth Day today, I want to take a moment to take a look at some unique species found at London Town. They have common names which make it easier to remember them and that might also help find a deeper, maybe an imaginative connection with nature for all ages.


Mature Arisaema (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) (sp. thunbergii?)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema species is an ephemeral that prefers moist dense shade. London Town has quite a display of Arisaemas. This is one plant that defies all norms of a flower, with its unique shape and shades. It can even change sex from one season to the other!



Young Arisaema (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) waiting to unfold and open up.


Young Arisaema ringens (Jack-in-the-Pulpit)

‘Pulpit’ is in reference to the artistic spathe, and 'Jack' is in reference to the inflorescence stalk inside. When in full bloom, it seems as if 'Jack' is standing tall above the ground, ready to give a sermon. When female, it is also referred to as ‘Jill.’ A species with ample to explore and is filled with awe for all.

Illicium sps. (Star Anise) flower



Illicium sps. (Star Anise) fruit

Star Anise, Illiciums sps., have fruits in shape of a star and flavor (of edible species) close to Spanish Anise. Delicate flowers, fruit spice that’s used in Chai, evergreen foliage and a promising long lasting shrub aren’t the only attractive characteristics of the Star Anise. Illiciums date back to the cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Both Arisaema and Illicium habitats are considered rare in the wild, with fragile habitats.



Young fronds of Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Most all children know about the dinosaurs, but not even a handful know about the ‘dinosaurs of the plant world’, eg. the Illiciums, Ginkgos and even the primitive Magnolias that date back 80 million years ago. ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ (as Richard Louv quotes it) is apparent not only in children but even in adults.



Mature fronds of Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Tall open fronds resemble Ostrich Plumes. Intertwining with nature can begin in numerous ways. Finding ‘awe’ in nature isn’t hard, and in a botanical oasis like London Town Gardens, it is easy! Whether a plant is unique or simple, if you dive deeper, one can easily use an imaginative mind to wander.


‘Ostrich Fern,’ for example, is a simple yet stunning fern that is abundant at London Town. ‘Ostrich’ is in reference to the long feathered, yet upright look of each frond that looks like Ostrich plumes. Now the reference to an Ostrich is 'awe-fully' good enough for even a child to connect with and certainly much easier than the Latin name, Matteuccia struthiopteris! Hope you find your ways to intertwine with nature and get your #GreenThumbs in the dirt this #EarthDay. Sharing today are pictures of some unique and simple London Town's Gardens treasures and some stunning views. Happy Earth Day!



Azalea glade view through the winter walk



Azaleas under the Oaks and Maples


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839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD 21037          410-222-1919         londontown@historiclondontown.org

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