Trees Atlanta Sale Preview

As you may have read on our events calendar, facebook, twitter, etc. we are providing some of the plants for Trees Atlanta’s 1st Annual Native Perennial Wildflower Sale.  Just to be clear: they’re selling perennials and this will be a recurring yearly event.

We have had their plants in the greenhouse for a few months now to get them to break winter dormancy a little early so they’ll be all leafed out in time for the sale April 6th.  Here’s a few shots of the sorts of plants you can buy at their sale.

 The Red Columbine (Acquilegia canadensis) have already started to bloom!

 The Celadine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) have also started blooming, but that’s normal even outside the greenhouse.  The ones in my backyard look very similar.

 The Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) are the main impetus for speeding up the plants’ spring awakening.  They are notoriously hard to grow in pots and the roots tend to rot over the winter if left out in the rain, so we wanted to make sure we had good strong viable plants.   Looks like they made it.

 The False Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis)  has leafed out very nicely in the past few weeks.  The foliage is a striking blue-green hue that looks great in bright sun.

 The (sadly) rare and threatened Georgia Aster (Stmphyotrichum georgianum) never lost it’s leaves.  It’s one tough plant.

 The Narrowleaf Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) is starting to demonstrate its ability to grow very large and spread rapidly.  It’s a great plant if you’ve got a lot of area you’d like bathed in bright flowers and bees.  It might just take over smaller gardens, so plan wisely.

 One of my favorites, Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata), sending out multiple stems.  This is a clumping mint, not a running one, so it won’t spread quite as fast as some of the other members of the mint family.  The flowers are truly unique in their color and structure. This picture is from last summer just so you get the idea:

 Pink sepals that fade to green at the stem and yellow tubular flowers with brown spots.  You have to see it close up to appreciate the complexity of these blooms.  You’ll probably have to wait in a long line of bees to do so.

 Last but not least there’s Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) which also has very interesting and brightly colored flowers.


These are just some of the plants that we grew that will be in the sale.  There are going to be many more species from a variety of other growers.  The full plant list can be found here.  At least one member of the Beech Hollow staff will be present to answer questions, so come on out and say hi!  We’d love to see you come out and help support Trees Atlanta’s environmental education efforts by taking home a few plants to brighten up your yard/garden/neighborhood.  The birds, butterflies and bees (as well as Atlanta’s schoolchildren) will thank you.

  Mark your Calendar: April 6th, 8 am to 1 pm.

Spring Blooms

Today is officially the first day of Spring!  By the way, it’s supposed to freeze tonight.  Despite some recent chilly weather plenty of plants at the farm have seen fit to go ahead and bloom.  Here’s a select few:

 Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) has been blooming since about January, so no surprise here.  It’s great creeping ground cover that will take shade or sun.

 Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) has such a tiny but beautiful flower.

 Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is starting to put on some amazing new growth, and now flowers! Note the interesting fused leaves just below the blooms.  Just to be clear: this is a native plant, Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is not native and will start to resemble kudza in its manner if you plant it around here. 

 Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) has a unique Latin name, and is similarly confusing in other respects.  It’s the only member of its genus, it reproduces asexually through dense, fibrous, yellow roots, and sexually through these tiny brownish-yellow flowers.  I haven’t been able to find much on who actually pollinates the flowers, but I saw a bunch of gnats or tiny flies hovering around last night.

 There’s my attempt to document a pollinator for this flower. Entymologists have at it.

 They really are beautiful little flowers.

 I noticed Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) blooming all around the farm while on a walk yesterday.  We’ll have to get some cuttings from our resident vines.

 Down in the creek area the fiddleheads are popping up everywhere. 

Here’s to the last freeze.

The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain

  In our continuing effort to observe natural plant communities in and around the Georgia Piedmont we took another field trip on March 14 to the Pocket Loop Trail in the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area.  ‘The Pocket’ is often billed as the best wildflower viewing area in Georgia.  It’s still a little early in the season as far as blooms go, but there was plenty to see.

 The trailhead was fairly easy to find.  The last turn off of Hog Jowl Rd. (such a great name) was kind of like turning into a neighborhood with little signage, but about a half mile down the road there were DNR signs.  Here’s a map if you need directions.  The first part of the trail up into the Pocket is a raised boardwalk known as the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail.  The boardwalk protects the delicate ephemerals and all the other plants in this floodplain from human feet.  It also prevents ground compaction from foot traffic, which can have a devastating effect on the underground parts of many plants.

 The sides of the boadwalk are lined with Spicebushes (Lindera bezoin) which were just starting to flower and extend their leaves.  The flowers bloom before the leaves unfold and flatten out.  Another interesting aspect of this plant is that it is dioecious, meaning that there are male and female plants.  The flowers are so tiny that it can be hard to distinguish the males from the females, but I think I learned how with the help of a hand lens.

 Here’s a better look close up.  These are male flowers.  You can just barely make out some globular yellow tufts of pollen on the tips of the anthers.  Note my thumb for a size reference.  The female flowers are incredibly similar, but they have an ovary in the center with a stigma (looks like a white hair) emerging from it.  I couldn’t get a good close up of the female flower, but the other thing I noticed is that most of the flowers open were male.  Only a few females had their blooms starting to open, which is a good strategy, as the males need to be fully in bloom with mature pollen grains as the female flowers become receptive to pollen. 

 The Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) had their foliage up, but were not quite ready to bloom.

 A few were trying really hard though.

 Plenty of Liverworts (Hepatica acutiloba) were blooming amongst the leaves of Trilliums.

 Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was putting on a similar show amongst Trillium and Geranium leaves.

 The Celadine Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) were so close! I was bummed I didn’t get to see these in full bloom because I love this flower.  I suppose I will have to return in a few weeks.

 The Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida) were just starting to open as well, but this one had a bit more sun, so it went ahead and gave us a show.

 Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera) was also blooming farther up the trail.

 The culmination of the half mile or so after the boardwalk ends is the waterfalls.  The limestone/sandstone geology of the area gives it an interesting stepped/cascade form.

 Some really good examples of sedimentary deposition planes. 


As I said at the beginning, we headed out there just a little early to catch the peak of the trillium bloom, so there’s still time if you want to explore this amazing area in full bloom!


Palisades Trail One Month Later

In the Observation and Restoration post I wrote in February, I detailed a hike down the West Palisades Trail to the Chattahoochee River to see the spring bloom start.  I took a little hike back down this past weekend to see what was blooming a month later.

 Dimpled Trout Lilies (Erythronium umbilicatum) are still blooming, but I think the peak has past (already!).

 Most of their leaves are large enough to compete with the flowers for your attention.

 There were several nice large patches of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom.

 The flower stalk emerges first with the leaf folded/rolled around it.  As the flower fades, the leaf unfolds and takes on an interesting lobed appearance.

Speaking of interesting leaves: a Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla) starting to bloom.

 The trilliums (Trillium cuneatum) are still not quite ready to bloom, but there are so many more leafed out than when I went last month.  It’s going to be quite a show soon.

This was one of the very few that has opened.

Word of the day: Myrmecochory (mer-me-ceh-cor-y) – Seed dispersal by ants. A lot of the liles, trilliums, bloodroot, hepatica, and wild ginger that are blooming now or soon use this method of seed dispersal.

I found an interesting Youtube video from a user named mrilovetheants (whose other interesting looking videos I’ll have to browse later) about this process.  It also has a great tangent about why you should only buy nursery propagated trilliums, lilies, etc. to protect wild populations.

Happy Trails!