Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cutting Alders, Planting Trilliums




Heavy rains gave way to blustery winds today which continue even now. The wind has that sound about it that reminds me of a February back around 1987 when the wind never stopped all month. We were living in a place right on Lake Champlain and as beautiful as the surroundings were, the cold wind almost didn't let you ever go to sleep. I wish it would stop soon but until I notice it's absence, I know it will be in control.


Gail and Alex were leaving me behind today to keep the fire going and do some things around here that had to get done. I put Karl, the wonder dog, in the truck about 10 and headed to the newest part of Vermont Flower Farm. I have been cutting alders, poplars and willows and am trying to get the mess cleaned up before deep snow or real cold forces me to stay home.


I gave Karl a quick walk and then put him in the truck. I can't figure out what spooks him but one of the many wild animals who finds our new place "home" leaves just enough scent that Karl gets upset. He is not enamored with thoughts of coyotes or bears so perhaps it was one of those. He was happy to sit back inside the truck, perched on the little fold down piece between the seats.


I chain sawed and then dragged limbs up to the truck until it was piled high. I threw the spiderman net over the top and secured the load for the way home. Ever since I lost a load at the intersection of Route 2 and 302 at 4:30 PM on a Friday I have made it a point to properly secure anything that reaches above the bed walls of the pickup.


It was close to lunch time so after unloading the wood and brush, Karl and I headed for the house. He pulled up in front of the wood stove and I found the refrigerator. In the back of the bottom shelf was a plastic container marked "erectum and grandiflorum". I had forgotten it was there and apparently Gail had overlooked it too as it's not like her to allow science experiments in the fridge.


One of my favorite wildflowers is trillium. My favorite trillium book, although there really is no other, is Fred and Roberta Case's Trilliums published by Timber Press, 1997 ISBN 0-88192-374-5. Trilliums are easy to grow from seed as long as a.) you harvest the seed before the ants find the seed or the deer eat the whole plant, b.) you can remember where you planted the seed as it takes two years to germinate and c.) you are saint-like in your patience for another 4-5 years as the plants get big enough to have noteworthy flowers. I put the seed by the back door so I could get it planted along the Winooski River.


We finished our lunch and returned to our project. Karl was content with sleeping on my sweatshirt and I was resigned to plant the trillium and get back to the brush. Through the edge of the property that runs from Route 2 down to the river is a fine area of alluvial soil. It has grown some nice Lilium canadense and I think it will grow some nice trilliums too.




The erectum are earlier bloomers and I have had some nice displays since moving to Marshfield. I brought some grandiflorum seeds with me and it's been a slower process but I have hundreds now in various stages of development. My general method of operation is to harvest the seed pods just before the insects find them and then plant an entire seed pod in a hole I make in the ground by simply poking a finger two digits deep. I squish the ripened pod first and them push it into the hole and cover with dirt. Every Spring like clockwork I spread some lime around with a tad more for the grandiflorums. This method of planting means that when success arrives, there are fairly large clumps of very small trilliums ready to be dug en masse and spread out. They look something like this. This is a three year old clump.





There is one other trillium which grows in Vermont named T. undulatum. I have a small group started but I seem to forget about seed harvest and planting because they are the last to bloom and are at seed pod stage later in August when we get busy selling plants. In the wild they are seldom found in colonies and are more often found singly and spaced 10-15-20 feet apart. There were some nice displays off the trail at Kettle Pond this year with some much more mature plants than I have. Next summer I'll make it a point to snag some seed and get them going in the woods by the river.
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the winds howl and remind me how much I'd like my own anemometer opposed to guessing wind speed.
December greetings,
George Africa

1 comment:

William said...

Can you help me? I received four dormant wake robin plants for Mother's Day. Can I plant them now or do I have to hold them until fall. If I need to hold them, how do I do that? I live in central Wisconsin and we have had a very dry, cold Spring but the trilliums are now in bloom.
Thanks,