In the Garden

Our Annual Open Garden Days at Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve

April 2023

The 2023 Open Garden Days at the Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve drew over 150 visitors eager to see the garden in its most spectacular annual display.

Our spring ephemerals bloom from mid-March into mid-April, give or take a week or so on each end, seemingly earlier each year. Even so, the thermogenic Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) blooms in January, and the Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia), Eastern Leatherwood (Dirca palustris), and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are highlights as early as February! 

When scheduling Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve Open Gardens Days, the best we can do is guess the ideal dates based on the previous spring. This year we planned six Open Garden Days from March 22 to April 19. Some people attended the earliest and latest Open Garden Days and were fascinated to observe all that changes, with some blooms going to seed and others newly appearing. Spring ephemerals are fleeting like that, emerging early and disappearing as the tree canopy fills out. 

Lisa Gould guiding a group of garden visitors
Bee covered in Trillium grandiflorum pollen

We hope to feature the trillium show, and this year did not disappoint!

Toadshade Trillium (Trillium cuneatum) is our earliest blooming and most common trillium, soon followed by:

  • the Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum),
  • Underwood’s Trillium (Trillium underwoodii),
  • Sessile Trillium (Trillium sessile),
  • Lance-leaved Trillium (Trillium lancifolium),
  • Twisted Trillium (Trillium stamineum),
  • Southern Red Trillium (Trillium sulcatum),
  • Pale Yellow Trillium (Trillium discolor),
  • Slender Trillium (Trillium gracile),
  • Yellow Trillium (Trillium luteum),
  • Stinking Trillium (Trillium foetidissimum),
  • Wateree Trillium (Trillium oostingii), and
  • the Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum).

Because the trillium species are in such close proximity here, there is a lot of reproductive hanky-panky going on (as Emily would like to say), and there are hybrid trilliums that may be unique to the Preserve.

With so many native plant species, something is almost always in bloom. The newly planted ‘Elf’ Mountain Laurels (Kalmia latifolia) are thriving on the Terrace Garden as May rolls around, and the new Pollinator Garden promises a nectar-filled Summer with all its lush foliage.

At the Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve, April showers bring May ferns. Over 50 different ferns and their allies have been recorded in the Preserve, some occurring naturally and others introduced on the property.

To celebrate all the ferns that May brings, plant ecologist Lisa Gould will be offering a Fern Identification class on May 25! Register here:

Twisted Trillium (Trillium stamineum)
Many thanks to our wonderful guides this year. Pictured left to right: Sheilah Lombardo, Judy Scurry, Lisa Gould, Nita Colvin, Carol Gearhart; Not pictured: Susan Andrews, Ken Bridle, Emily Bundy, Marie James.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) seedpods in early April.

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