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.
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?
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?
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.
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
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) 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.
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.
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.
Pennsylvania Invasive Plant Species Fact Sheets
New Jersey Invasive Plants
Delaware Invasive Plants
National Invasive Species Information Center
Canadian Council on Invasive Species