Yay, They’re Back!

Spring is always a season of anticipation, especially on Cape Cod.  March and April are cool and wet, and spring doesn’t really arrive until May.  The anticipation for daffodils, flowering trees, and green lawns is tangible.

What I anticipate the most is going out into the garden to look at what I planted last year, to see how they will do this year.  I do try hard to put the right plant in the right place, matching the plant’s needs to my conditions and not trying to push the boundaries of what will thrive here.  However, native plants can be particular about their conditions, and plants that ought to survive may be missing a particular soil component, or not have the right winter conditions this year, to come back this spring.  So when a plant decides it likes its spot, I’m thrilled.

Last year was a big planting year, and I’m pleased to report that most plants have come back. Take a look.



Golden alexander (Zizia aurea)

Since this is recommended for pollinator gardens as an early food source for native bees, I planted it last year. The rabbits loved it, so I was pleasantly surprised when it came back this year. Three weeks after this photo was taken it is still blooming.


Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragariodes)

This is a low-growing groundcover with lovely yellow springtime flowers. I planted a dozen of them in different spots in the garden and they all came back and are beginning to colonize. This may be my new favorite ground cover.


American spikenard (Aralia racemosa)

This shrubby perennial should get to be 4′-6′ tall and wide. The first year it did poorly (should have given it more water) but this spring it looks great.


Trees and Shrubs

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis.

While this is native from Pennsylvania south, it has been introduced on the Cape, so I decided to try planting one because the spring bloom is so beautiful. This is its second spring and there were a good number of buds.


Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum).

These shrubs will grow to 6′-10′ and converge into a large mass that will serve to extend the woodland edge. I saw these first on the bike trail in Harwich, planted at a rest area with benches – they made a nice statement.


Yellow twig dogwood (Cornus servicea ‘Flamiramea’)

I love the end-of-season plant sales and last fall I scooped this up for half price. Sometimes plants that have been in pots all season struggle to get established, but this one looks like it is settling in nicely.



Canada wild ginger (Asarum canadensis)

This plant is the native version of ginger, similar to the one sold in nurseries but without the shiny leaf. The surprise here is the tiny burgundy flower hiding under the leaves – this is the sign of a happy plant.


Lady fern (Athyrium felix-femina)

I planted these under some black cherries off in the back, about 3 years ago, and they seemed to disappear. Then this year they returned! I have cleared the grasses from around them and watered, so maybe they will stick around.


Wild columbine (Aquilegia)

This is in the same spot as the ferns, about 100 feet away from the woodland garden where Aquilegia canadensis is growing. The flower color and shape are different so I’m not sure what kind of columbine this is, but it is a lovely surprise.

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