While tripping down a woodland lane
a whisper of spring
I tried to explain.
In the green shade
a flower brings its own light.
After this long cold winter
a much needed sight.
Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest
and not a moment too soon. Sure we’re still having stormy days but, in the midst of it all the clouds blow away, the sky turns blue, and it’s 60° in the shade. Some days still feel similar to winter, but even if you’re not paying much attention, what you can’t miss in the spring are the flowers.
New beginnings, the land wakes up, action without reflection.
When I first came to the Olympic Peninsula there were so many plants that I was unfamiliar with. I was barely aware of Rhodedendrons so when I saw the Madrona trees for the first time I thought I was seeing giant Rhodies! Then, with all of the beautiful forests and mountain trails to explore, I saw woodland plants that I had only previously seen in books about fairies. Where in the world had I landed?
Within a year I was living in the woods and had my own trail that connected the two buses that David and I lived in. I really liked being in the woods and barely came into town. It could be very dark there, tucked into the trees, even on sunny days. The light that made it through the trees was filtered through layers of green. There I began to garden for the first time. I had hoped to have flowers to add to the green of the salal and ferns. The bulbs I planted did fine but, being new to gardening, the flowers that I chose preferred the sun. I even had three rose bushes! Only later did I learn that all of the seed I had sown hadn’t made it and what I was carefully tending was a patch of weeds!
Then it happened. Trilliums.
Spring came, the ferns unfurled their fronds and then, almost overnight, the trilliums showed themselves. They came up throughout the woods. Some grew along the trail that I had been crisscrossing all winter.
I had never seen anything so perfect. Three petals set above three leaves all supported by a single stem. Trillium=3³ therefore Trillium=9 and you know how I feel about the number 9! I wrote about it in a previous post, I Spy the 12 Days of Solstice. Day 9. Check out my link!
I’ve always felt a special connection to springtime. My birthday is in early April, so spring was mine! Maybe it comes from having grown up in a big family where any little thing you can claim and identify as your own was yours and therefore a part of your identity. I knew it was kismet for me to have found this woodland spring flower.
All of that seems so long ago. I have since moved into town and have made a life out of gardening.
About fifteen years ago I was given my first trillium plant.
It came from a friend of David’s. I had never considered trying to grow one in the garden, but was very excited to try. Then every year it came up, one flower, one stem. Then two years ago I acquired another variety, sessile. It has a maroon flower and mottled leaves. Very cool.
Over the past four years I’ve been doing a major overhaul of my garden. I made it smaller and deer proof. My shade garden was the last thing I worked on. The plants were dug up, moved around, given away or hauled off to compost. I’ve been so excited for this spring, to see my garden finally realized, settled and growing.
So, of course, the first thing that I started to look for this spring was the trilliums. The only memory that I have is digging them up. Where did I put them? Would I have left them in pots? I check the pots. No trilliums. I check and recheck the garden. I’m seriously trying to not panic at this point.
“Give it time. Maybe they’re just not up yet. It’s been colder than usual this year…..”
This last Tuesday I worked at a very nice woodland garden outside of town. The woman I work for loves trilliums too and has grown them for 25 years. Her flowers were up and blooming, so, we stood there to admire them and exchange stories. She had once cut a bouquet for their office in town but, had to remove them. Some people were really upset because,
“You’re never suppose to cut them. They’ll not flower for seven years”.
I had never heard this before but, also, I had never tried to cut one. Sources on the internet go as far as to say that you will actually kill the plant if you cut the flower and stem. It turns out that since they are a rhizome, when they go dormant, their leaf and stem feed the plant for the next growing season. She said she had never had any problems after cutting them and then pointed out that they had spread since last year.
“Could you dig out the ones that are growing under the bush? You can have them if you like.”
“Really? Are you sure? Thank you!”
In another spot they had spread into the pathway. New little baby plants. She said I could have all of those too. In the end I left with ten white trilliums. What luck!
Then on Thursday I went to another garden and shortly after getting there the woman I work for wanted to show me something.
“Have you seen these before?”
“Yes, trilliums. They are one of my favorite flowers.”
This was the other variety that I had lost, sessile. She loved them too, but they were spreading and coming to far forward in the bed.
“They need to be thinned out or at least moved to the back of the bed. You can take a couple for yourself if you like?”
“Yes! Thank you!”
I couldn’t believe it. In one weeks time I had more than replaced my missing flowers. My heavy heart was made full all thanks to the sharing generosity of fellow gardeners. Trilliums came to me and just in time for my birthday!
Spring is on my side.