May 28, 2010

Now You See 'Em, Now You Don't

We don't make nearly enough use of spring ephemerals.  Perhaps, in New England, that's because they're not supposed to live, much less thrive.  Tell that to my bluebelles.

We lived in Virginia for eight years and came to love the annual, massive display of Virginia bluebelles at Manassas State Park.  They carpeted acres of that park for a few weeks each March, then disappeared as if by magic.  When we returned to Medfield, we decided - against the advice of nurseries - to try some two clusters in one of our shade gardens.

The result can be seen in the two photos.  The one above (double-click on it to see a larger version) was taken in early April.  There are the bluebelles, now eight clusters and growing.  They provided color for three sweeks when there was nothing else in the bed.  The photo at right is from the same vantage point last week.  The bluebelle foliage is still there - barely visible - crowded out by the hosta and emerging astilbe.

By mid-June, the astilbe will be in flower and the bluebelle foliage will have completely disappeared.  It's a terrific use of two plants in the same space, and an opportunity to extend the color season.

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