The year after we planted our first river birch I planted a small container with European ginger. This is not the knotty kind of ginger that you will find at the grocery store. Its proper name is Asarum europaeum. They are commonly referred to as wild gingers (they are not culinary gingers) but are so-called because their rhizomes have a similar spicy scent. It has not increased rapidly under the river birch, but it spreads nicely every year. It is happy to spend its life in the shade.
It is an evergreen which seems amazing when I think about the fact that it will be covered with snow in the winter, and look as strong and beautiful as ever in the spring. I am learning that if I am careful and persistent I can find tiny flowers beneath these heavy leaves.
Grape hyacinths (Muscari armenicacum) are a small spring bulb that increase every year. It was a great surprise to me when I found out how it spent its time. I planted several little bulbs in the fall and was delighted when green shoots came up in the spring and then little purple flowers appeared.
Then I learned that after the blossoms have passed away, the greenery begins to dry away and disappear during the early summer.
Then later in the summer the green foliage begins to appear again. And it continues its green life through the fall, and through the winter, until – magically – the grape hyacinths begin to show their shoots through the foliage and brilliantly blossoms again in the spring. I find it hard to understand this mystery – but I welcome it every spring.