-Garry Plunkett

Spring is an exciting time to be in woodlands because a lot is happening on the forest floor – in plain sight! That’s when the herbaceous layer gets unimpeded, warming sunlight, and when I can’t wait to get into my woods every morning to see “what’s up” – fiddleheads uncurling, spring flowers emerging, mystery plants appearing, planted species surviving, and old-faithfuls spreading.

Spring wildflowers get a well-deserved spotlight from overwintering, color-starved humanoids. A problem in my woods has been finding species that hungry deer won’t browse. (Hey, they’ve had a tough winter too!) My Virginia bluebells, celandine poppy, and trilliums (trillia?) survive the deer herd, and have thrived in my low pH soil.

A wonderful surprise 6-7 years ago was the volunteer trout lilies that showed up unannounced. Modest bloomers even in established populations, it took 4 years to produce the first flower. They are also true spring ephemerals, gone without a trace by midsummer, all of which makes them a special springtime joy.

Unfortunately, noxious invasives don’t share this disappearing quality. But their early spring leaf-out makes them easy to find – I can spot a 3-inch privet seedling at 15 feet. Multiflora rose is even easier – go for 20 feet! Another plus: Wet, spring soil makes them easy to remove. Beware! It can be compulsive – I’ve jerked out a couple hundred of those #*!@ already this spring.

Spring is a time to enjoy woodland wildflowers and a time to get an edge in the battle against invasives – two good reasons to be outdoors.