2. Spring Ephemerals

The entry garden and woodland are full of spring ephemerals, so named for their fleeting visibility (just a few weeks from mid-April to early May). Plants like Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), and Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) take advantage of the sun that reaches woodland floors before tree canopies send out their leaves. 

   Queen bumblebees (Bombus spp.) are some of the season’s earliest pollinators, emerging in concert with the spring ephemerals. Queens hibernate underground during the winter, meaning that their energy stores are greatly depleted once they surface. Ephemerals provide a vital first source of pollen and nectar to the awakening bees, allowing them to build their nests and rear their young. 

   Climate change is causing plants’ flowering time to shift earlier and earlier as winters shorten. Researchers are still working to understand how severely this will impact pollinator populations, but earlier snow melts have already resulted in a measurable mismatch between bee emergence and flower availability. This means that the plants will have a harder time getting pollinated and bees will have a harder time provisioning their broods. To help support local hibernating bee populations, make sure to include both early and late blooming native plants in your garden!