Snowdrops, Friend or Foe?

snowdrops_Galanthus nivalis
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) in my garden.

This past week marked the spring thaw. Snow that had been on the ground for three weeks melted into little rivers and drops from eaves. This week only a few isolated piles of snow remain. Peeking through the last of the snow are the snowdrops.

 

snowdrops_Galanthus nivalis
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
in my garden in spring

I actually saw the first blossoms the last week of February. The Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) covers my garden. From the bottom of the garden to the top, patches of snowdrops hang their small white heads.

I didn’t plant the snowdrops. My late next-door neighbor died over thirty years ago. The population of snowdrops outlasted her. Be careful what you plant. I wonder which of my plantings will outlast me?

snowdrops_Galanthus nivalis
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) two by two and many more.

In a small way, my garden will live long after I am gone. I wonder which of my plants will continue to spread and set seed? Which one of my plants will provide help in restoring our natural forest and meadow habitats? Which one of my plants will help to heal the Earth?

 

Columbine (Aquilega canadensis)
Columbine (Aquilega canadensis) in my backyard garden.

Wildly Self-Seeding

The most prolific and wildly self-seeding indigenous plant in my garden is Columbine. I find the little rounded leaves everywhere. I truly adore this plant. It looks so delicate but is a tough survivor.

eastern_columine_IMG_0322
Red or Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis L.) in my garden.

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) blooms as the hummingbirds are returning. It provides an important food source when few other plants are blooming. Hummingbirds, sweat bees, and bumblebees feed on the nectar.

Columbine is the larval host plant for Columbine Duskywing Butterflies (Erynnis lucilius) and Columbine Borer Moth (Papaipema leucostigma).

 

Violets in the Strangest Places

 

common blue violet_Viola sororia
Common Blue Violets (Viola sororia) in bloom in my garden.

Violets self-seed themselves all over my garden, too. I find them in the strangest places. I find them in containers and pots, in shade and sunny spots. I like to make the seed pods project their seeds into the air.

Common Blue Violets_Viola sororia
Common Blue Violets (Viola sororia) in bloom in my garden.

Common Blue Violets (Viola sororia) flower from April to May, and sometimes again in September. It is a host to Great Spangled (Speyeria cybele) and Aphrodite (Speyeria aphrodite) Fritillaries.

Columbine and the Common Blue Violet are indigenous to my area. The give and take from the ecosystem. They live in harmony and balance with the other plants and animals in our habitat.

 

Common Blue Violets (Viola sororia) in bloom in my garden.

Snowdrops Should They Go?

The snowdrops? Well, they aren’t indigenous. They are native to Eurasia and the Mideast. Snowdrops aren’t bothered by insects or disease. Not bothered by insects means no one eats it. Which means it isn’t a host plant for butterflies, moths, or other insects in our ecosystem. I’m sure in its native habitat someone eats it.

The Snowdrops aren’t harmful. They take up space a native plant could use. But they bloom so early they really don’t cause harm. For now, they can stay.

 

H**L No, the Invasives Have Got to Go

I have several non-indigenous species of plants that reseed themselves in my garden. A few are invasive. They are harmful. I’ll focus my energy on getting rid of these.

I’ve eradicated privet. English Ivy has made an appearance. Garlic Mustard and I are frenemies. I’ll eliminate them this year.

The least I can do to support the health of my ecosystem is to eliminate the invasive species from my garden.

 

Butterfly bush_Buddleja davidii
Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) invasive in Pennsylvania.

More Information on Invasive Plants

Search for your state or province invasive species list by typing the words “invasive plants” and the name of your state or province.

Why Native Plants? 

 

Pennsylvania Invasive Plant Species Fact Sheets

https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Conservation/WildPlants/InvasivePlants/InvasivePlantFactSheets/Pages/default.aspx

 

New Jersey Invasive Plants

https://www.nj.gov/dep/njisc/pdf.htm

 

Delaware Invasive Plants

http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/NHESP/Documents/Non-native%20Invasive%20Plants%20of%20Delaware_2018.pdf

 

National Invasive Species Information Center

https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/

 

Canadian Council on Invasive Species

https://canadainvasives.ca/

6 comments

  1. Donna, Much enjoyed this post. Those snowdrops, do seem to bring joy to you, so your decision is expected. The garlic mustard though, once pulled, may not be . . . gone. It may take years to eradicate, if the wind doesn’t bring it to you from neighboring spots. That effort is worthy though, very worthy. Your Columbine is sweet looking, and bees love and enjoy it.
    Nice post, for we all can benefit from your share.

    • Hi, Jeff
      Thanks for your comments. Yeah, I have been fighting Garlic Mustard for years now. I snip off the flower heads when I see them. I pull the plants up, etc. etc. A friend suggested making pesto with Garlic Mustard. I tried the pesto but I don’t like the taste. All Hail Queen Garlic Mustard!

  2. Planting a tree (or many) is perhaps the best way to leave a living legacy. And we all know the best time to do it: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now” – usually attributed as Chinese proverb.

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