The Greening of Spring and Foreshadowing of Summer

April is the greening month. The earliest spring plants, which came up with not a trace of green, such as rue anemone and twinleaf, turn green. Other plants, such as crested iris and Pennsylvania sedge do most of their growing in these few weeks.

The ribbon-like Tulipa tarda leaves frame a very grassy Pennsylvania sedge with flower buds; it blooms in mid- to late April. Its flowers will not be not exciting, however. Photographed on April 4, 2024.

Pennsylvania sedge generally blooms in late April, but it seems to be more temperature than daylight sensitive. 

Clockwise from the pawpaw’s trunk: twinleaf, Dutchman’s breeches, Pennsylvania sedge, and crested iris. Photographed on April 19, 2024.

The other big groundcover in this yard is wild ginger. It needs shade and regular moisture, and it comes up in mid-April looking like little fish poking their heads out of the water.

Wild ginger breaking ground. This patch lives under smoke bushes, whose trunk you see. The plant in the ginger’s midst that looks like lily of the valley is ramps. There are Dutchman’s breeches on the left with a couple of daffodils and a small daylily; behind the stone wall are the regular orange daylilies. Photographed on April 12, 2024.

In a week, the wild ginger will shade the ground completely.

Wild ginger under a smoke bush. The bricks at the bottom of this photograph are awaiting a big potted Cymbidium that overwinters indoors. Photographed on April 19, 2024.

As the ginger matures, it becomes an excellent textural backdrop for other plants. It has a calming, cooling effect in the garden.

Wild ginger under Magnolia stellata ‘Leonard Messel.’ Photographed on May 9, 2024.

Wild ginger can need supplemental watering during droughts, especially if it gets hot. 

By the end of the month, the biggest of the spring ephemera are just about gone. The remaining bluebell stems are quite yellow, requiring big distractions. Hostas are up for the job.

Yellow bluebell stems peek out from under and behind the hostas. Behind the hostas, the narrow-leaved asters have filled in the space. Photographed on May 27, 2024.

It’s chilly this week, so the plan is to enjoy these lovely greens now. The heat is coming.