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E-Garden Almanac: Plant Driven: Central Iowa

E-Garden Almanac

The E-Garden Almanac is the push-button, real human journal of Kelly D. Norris. All errors, grammatic grievances, and opinions are that of the author. Kelly is a freelance writer and Master Gardener from southwest Iowa. His passion and obsession with horticulture, plants, and gardening embodies nearly every function of his life. The E-Garden Almanac serves as the web extension of his columns, articles, and lectures.
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Location: Iowa

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Plant Driven: Central Iowa

I think it goes without saying that I'm plant driven. Some would say driven to the point of madness, but then they really don't know many plantsmen then do they?

As alluded to in my last post, I'm going to start blogging about my plant hunting experiences. At my core (root, haha horticultural pun), I'm a plant explorer and a plantsman. In search of new plants to thrive in American gardens, I along with my fellow hortiholics Josh Schultes and Elizabeth Childs will embark upon a number of little expeditions this growing season including a June trip to the Ozarks. I want to use these opportunities to extol the virtues of native plants. Maybe you already grow some that we'll see. Maybe not. At any rate my goal is to expose you to the joys of wandering wild lands and the bounteous rewards that our native lands hold for gardens.

The first such installment of Plant Drive happened this past weekend during a spell of fabulous early spring weather here in Central Iowa. About a week ago I caught word of blooming Trillium nivale (pronounced ni-valley), the snow trillium, at a nearby wildlife preserve. Sojourn our cadre did on Saturday and Sunday in search of this and other bijou ephemerals, the harbingers of spring.

We spent Saturday hiking around without much success. Several hepaticas (Hepatica nobilis, formerly H. acutiloba) were budded and showing off some fabulous foliar variegation, but alas no blossoms. We stumbled upon an expansive outcrop of ferns including maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum), and bluntlobe woodsia (Woodsia obtusa). We'll revisit this site nestled among the cliff faces and sandstone outcrops this summer. We did find a few evergreen specimens of maidenhair fern, something fairly unusual as far as ferns in this part of the world go.

Sunday yield the most rewards. We found extensive swaths of snow trillium, perky little hepaticas popping out from the leaf litter, and even some of the first claytonias (Claytonia virginica).

The ephemerals get a bad rap it seems from high-browed muckety mucks who pompously proclaim that greenlings that small have no place in gardens--they'll be overlooked. Who's doing the overlooking I wonder? The flowers of spring offer gardeners more gladness than their size might suggest. Indeed that gladness was our motivation.

Check out a geeky little video from our adventure:



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