SAVING A LITTLE OF OUR WILD SIDE

Follow along with us as we garden our little piece of the planet here in Northern New Jersey and frankly blabber about plants.

Dec 31, 2018

Shooting Stars - A childhood favorite

I always thought I would explore the world, finding rare plants, digging up hidden treasures. I found the hunt, the mystery of discovery very inviting, if not addicting. Indiana Jones all the way. But, I never did that. Or did I. I have two great kids, and an amazing extremely crazy wife. All perfect.

As a kid, I also had it perfect. Though I did have to suffer through my Mom’s Salmon Patties, but besides that, I had a great time. My Grandparents were a major reason I loved nature. I went on trips with my “Nana” to the desert each spring. In the summer, I would spend time in the Sierra foothills with my other Grandparents. During these times I had my own explorations of the world, well California, and at the time that was the world to me. These trips and summers with my Grandparents introduced me to plants and nature that lives in my memory as if happened moments ago.

It was one of those days. The big white farmhouse my grandparents lived in had the classic dirt and gravel driveway. Just like a movie. Across the street was a stream which was a magnet to us. Us was my brother and two cousins. Back then we wandered everywhere, for hours without really telling anyone where we were going. This day we had stumbled onto a mine. Visions of gold and striking it rich bounced around in our heads, because yep, we were in the heart of Gold Country. What would we do with all the nuggets. We would be sorely disappointed in the lack of gold.

After a while we walked around to what appeared to be an untouched hillside, with masses of Shooting Stars. I had arrived at the perfect time of the year for this species which I found out later were Padre’s Shooting Star, Dodecatheon clevelandii. The grass was not yet tall enough to hide thousands of the plants pink hanging flowers with yellow rings. They were everywhere and something I had never seen before. The sunlight was filtered here and there by California Live Oaks and Digger Pines. I did not know it then but I had discovered one of the plants that would be one of my favorites for life. I would check these plants out each spring. I never disturbed them, they multiplied year after year. They survived for years but then one day, I found my hill had been turned into a strip mall with a theater. They had been plowed under for a parking lot. All hints of a meadow like hill top covered in Shooting Stars were now just a memory. Suburban sprawl had come to Jackson and it took my Shooting Stars.

But I had discovered these amazing plants. These would be one of many plants I would find and learn to appreciate in my very own explorations of the amazing places I would come across over the years.

Apr 17, 2016

Double Bloodroots

The Double Bloodroot. A mutation of our native Bloodroot in which the stamens have mutated to extra petals. The plant is sterile and cannot produce seed. It is pure luck that this amazing plant is alive today and available to the lucky gardener.

The story begins in 1916 where a one, Mr.Guido von Webern has an eye on a perfect plot of land consisting of about seven acres in Dayton, Ohio. He had a love of nature and this little piece of heaven had plentiful wildflowers which was a passion of his.

In Spring as the woodlands came alive he wandered throughout his newly purchased land marveling at what was now his. To his amazement he discovered among a clump of Sanguinaria canadensis, a solitary plant with fully doubled blossoms. Being no stranger to the local flora, he realized he was in possession of an unusual mutation.

The single small plant with this incredible flower was nothing to brag about, so he remembered the location and by 1919 the plant had increased to a clump.

It is here that this plant leaves our little plot of land in Ohio as the clump is now big enough to safely divide. He sends a specimen to the Arnold Arboretum in the Fall of 1919.

Strangely enough the gift to the Arnold Arboretum is not how this plant entered into public gardens. It appears that the good Mr von Webern provided two other specimens to two more people. And thank God, eventually the original clump died out and the plants at the Arnold Arboretum no longer exist. Enter one of the benefactors of the two other gifts. M. Henry Teuscher, Emeritus Director of the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Knowing an incredible plant when he saw one, he propagated the plant and is responsible for the plant reaching horticultural gardens across the nation and Europe. The plant has never again been found in its original location. But other wild specimens have come to light over the years in other locations.

Ours come to us from the yard of an elderly couple who no longer could care for their yard due to age and an incredible amount of deer that populate northern New Jersey treating gardens as their personal buffet.