Accidental Wildflower Garden

Bloodroot growing in a planted shrub thicket.
Bloodroot growing in a planted shrub thicket.

Some gardens just happen. This one has been developing slowly without any plan for about 40 years. It started out with some pine logs from a yard tree that no one would cut into lumber. As they aged lichens and mosses grew on the logs. Several years later a red maple (Acer rubrum) tree from the woods was planted. Then some winterberry (Ilex verticillata) showed up by the tree. It was probably a small seedling that came with the maple. Other shrubs were added over the years, some bought, some found. Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) and nanny berry (Viburnum lentago) was planted at one end and downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis) at the other end. Arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum), high-bush cranberry (Viburnum americanum), a rose with small pink flowers (Rosa sp.) and yellow bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) were added a few years ago. So was a hybrid mountain ash-hawthorn but it didn’t do very well. Pin cherries (Prunus pensylvanica) came in on their own. Nearby, a small orchard of feral apples was planted. These have grown into low trees and the area is starting to resemble a forest edge. Beyond them serviceberry (Amelanchier spicata), meadow-sweet (Spiraea alba), and cup-plant (Silphium perfoliatum) are growing.

A fence was put up along the north and east sides to keep connect with the vegetable garden fencing and to keep the deer out. Some New England asters (Aster novaeangliae) and wild sunflowers (Helianthus gigantea) were planted outside the fence. As the shrubs grew their leaves piled up and smothered the grass. The ground under the shrubs and trees looked to bare in the spring so some bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), chionodoxa (Chionodoxa forbesii) and squills (Scilla siberica) were added. Now, it looks like more flowering plants will be added under the shrubs. Plans are underway to scatter seeds of Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and plant cuttings of bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), yellow violet (Viola pubescens), and Canadian violet (Viola canadensis). Already, new plants have been added along the outside of the fence including currants (Ribes odorous, R. americanum), red elderberry (Sambucus pubens), yellow coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis), and wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata).

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