Tag Archives: jack-in-the-pulpit

A Comedy Of Planting


So, this came today. Jack, is that you? Jack-in-the-pulpit root, I think. It’s huge–3 inches long. How would you plant this slug?

OK, so something strange came into my life today. My wife and I had already agreed that most of the flowers that I bought this spring (not all, but most) will go under our clothesline, where we are establishing a few garden “holes” in a gravel area.

And, to cap a busy and cultural week, the first flowers arrived in today’s mail.

It was very warm—around 80—today, and I already planted some grass seed in my yard. I had also purchased, heaven knows why because past experience suggests it is a foolish gesture, a bag of “wild flower” shade garden seeds, and planted some here and there, about half in my gardens, half in the woods behind my house (trying to give garlic mustard something to compete with).

Anyway, I thought I was done gardening for the day. I like to garden, but don’t have much time for it at this time of year. For example, we’ve had a busy week, as spring often brings:

On Tuesday, my wife and I attended a speech by Cesare Frustaci. I, and the MMU handbell choir, played to open and close the program, but it was clearly all about Cesare and his compelling story.

As he noted, it’s a strange and sad thing that there are people in the world who deny the Holocaust, and his presentation about his experience in Hungary in World War II brought a packed crowd to the Chapel of Mercy.

Art wrapped in art. Sculpture tied with ribbons near Warde Hall.

Art wrapped in art. Sculpture tied with ribbons near Warde Hall.

On Friday, there was an “art invasion” of MMU, as high school art day was held. Part of the event was an outdoor installation involving lots of orange ribbon. I don’t’ know, somehow it just lightened the mood. Among other things, a giant sculpture behind Warde Hall was wrapped up, which improved its looks, I think.

More of my photos on Facebook.

Then, Saturday, we attended the excellent MMU production of “A Comedy of Errors.” I’ll never look at the sports editor of the MMU Times the same. If you read this before Sunday afternoon, there is a 2:30 matinee, and I think you would like it.

Anyway, so gardening was a bit of a quiet break from the pleasing cacophony of culture that attends being part of a university campus.

But, right before we were to go out on our date night, which included church, a restaurant meal and the play, the box arrived in the mail.

Containing a big, honking, enigmatic root seen at the top of this post.

I wasn’t even sure what it was, but because I am a little more familiar with the other plants I ordered, and because it was the one I’ve never planted before, I’m assuming this is Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Blog pals, and I right? In the right neighborhood? A small label said to plant it 6-inches deep. But it did not say which end to stick in the ground first. Which way would you say is “up?”

I spent a few fruitless minutes searching the Oralce of All Knowledge, but neither Ms. Google nor Mr. Wikipedia was all that helpful.

Oh, OK. the green probably points "up." I hope.

Oh, OK. the green probably points “up.” I hope.

Then I unpacked the other two roots. Oh. A giant green thing is emerging from one end. In my experience, that way is usually “up.”

It was 10 p.m. by then, and the radar said rain is west of us. So I decided to take flashlight in hand and plant these in a hole.

So I did. I just nestled them in among the wildflower seeds I had put in earlier—these are plants that tend to grow in shady areas anyway, so co-planting them with “shady” wildflower seeds seemed like a good move.

We’ll see. Some early flowers are in bloom already, check out these images.  And now, since our land is so dry, if only that rain would come on down …



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Garden Plots and Dreams


Columbine in bloom in my garden. There are other shapes and colors of this common flower that are available, so I may get some more of these.

Well, blog fans, a tree dispute is underway.  When my wife acquired some spruce trees form the Arbor Day Foundation last fall, I planted one in our backyard.  And she doesn’t like it, not there, probably not anywhere.

She has a point because the tree will have many points.  She says, although this I don’t agree with this, that I planted it “in the middle” of the play area of the yard.  Given that a spruce needs space, I did plant it out from the fringe of trees that surround the play area, but no, it’s off to the side, not in the middle.  Still, again, I can’t dispute the reality that the tree would certainly truncate the play area with its prickly trunk and branches.

The fate of the spruce remains to be seen.  It’s her yard, too.  If I cannot persuade her that the tree belongs where it is, then yes, I won’t fuss too much when it’s taken out (I might even be the taker outer, although I don’t really want to be).  Stay tuned.

Anyway, as this odd year seems to be starting June growth in April, I’m making some garden plans.  Before plants are bought or borders placed, yes, I’ll make sure the wife is on board.

There is an oddly shaped garden border in front with a sort of “fold” in it that creates an area that is hard to mow.  The area is shady, it’s on the north side of the house, but if we placed a garden border straight across between two outcrops of the house’s landscaping border, we would create a new strip where a shade garden could go.  It would have to be a fairly “short” garden since I would not want to obscure the basement windows, a point to keep in mind later if you’re moved to make suggestions.

Similarly, in back there is an area near the chimney where intense lilac shade, aided in recent years by tree growth, has all but eliminated grass. We planed bulbs there, and will border that corner off.

So what would I like to plant in these two new shady gardens?  Here are my ideas, so far:

  •  Jack in the Pulpit.  According to some of my plant catalogs, these do well where ferns and hosta do well, and both of the sites I’m contemplating seem like hosta homes.  Jack in the Pulpit seem to have fairly long bloom times, although that may be because several varieties are available in the catalogs, too.  I like these flowers, but they seem expensive.  Audrey notes she saw then wild in the woods as a youth, although I’m not sure I’ve noted one before.  Anybody familiar with these?
  •  Arum Italicum.  Cream flowers, bright berries.  Don’t have any of these yet.
  •  Toad lilies.  These have long been on my garden wish list, and having some new places makes it a good time to toad it up.
  •  Brilliance Autumn Fern.  I have not included hostas or ferns, otherwise, on the list just because I have a plethora of those plants.  But this reddish fern looks different.  And a “red fern,” for family reasons, would make me think of a recently departed brother-in-law.
  •  Bleeding Heart and/or Burning Heart.  I have a few, but not many, and could use more.
  •  Lily of the Valley.  Yes, I know, I already have plenty.  I’m thinking of paying the high price and getting a few pink ones, which I don’t have.

Some obvious choices I may pass up.  I like foxglove, for instance, but so do bunnies, apparently.  I might mix in a few Columbine, even though I already have a fair number of those, just because there is a wide variety of colors available in Columbine.

Well, plans are preliminary.  What do you think, blog fans?  What would go well in our two small shady spots?  And how would you sell the charms of a spruce to a reluctant spouse?

Photo notes:  Most photos are from the photo commons area of Flickr. Jack-in-the-pulpit by Simbrian.  Arum Italicum by jan parie.  Toad Lily by Weaselmcfee.  Brilliance Autumn Fern by wallygrom. Bleeding Heart by analogfetisch. The pink Lily of the Valley is not on Flickr, I got this image from http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where the plant is for sale.  The opening Columbine photo and the two photos below of the garden plots are, like most images on my blog, photos that I took.

Garden spot


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