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Celebrating Natives Garden Tour – Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary

We begin at the Short Trail entrance.


Hosted by Dan Jaffe Wilder

The Short Trail is a woodland walk designed to offer a short trip for anyone with limited mobility or limited time available to them. It begins from the visitor center with a walk through a hickory grove with an understory dominated by Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) with patches of yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta) spotted throughout.

Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary (NWS) is heavily browsed by deer and this garden is behind a deer fence, upon entering the garden proper you are greeted with a robust rich woodland scene. The canopy is a mixture of oak, black cherry and hickory and the shrub layer is dominated by pinkshell azalea (Rhododendron vaseyi), American holly (Ilex opaca), and various Viburnum species.

Rhododendron vaseyi

Texture plays a large role in the garden often filling the spaces between woodland forbs; various ferns including maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum), Braun’s holly (Polystichum braunii) and bulblet fern (Cystopteris bulbifera) hold the ground between flowering specimens such as green trillium (Trillium viride), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and small yellow lady’s slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum).

Groundcovers creep in between everything leaving little open space among the taller plants. Running foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia) is most common but wild ginger (Asarum canadense), creeping and woodland phlox (Phlox stolonifera and P. divaricata), green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) and others abound.

Where the groundcovers don’t colonize wild geranium (Asarum canadense), wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Jacob’s ladder (Polemoneum reptans), and golden alexanders (Zizia aurea) seed in; the seed bank is quite strong as every time we dig a hole to plant or move and plant one of these two species is sure to pop up.

Small patches of Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) are surrounded by the diminutive bishop’s cap (Mitella diphylla) requiring even the veteran plantsmen (and women) to pay close attention lest they miss something. The trail meanders around the edge of the garden with multiple smaller trails allowing access to the center eventually leading you on to other parts of NWS or simply looping back to the Visitor Center.

Restful bench amongst Carex pensylvanica

About the Host

Photographer and author Dan Jaffe Wilder earned a degree in botany from the University of Maine, Orono, an advanced certificate in Native Plant Horticulture and Design from Native Plant Trust (formally New England Wild Flower Society), and has years of nursery management and plant sales experience. He is passionate about ecological horticulture, building both sustainability and wildlife value into every landscape, and the foraging and cultivation of wild edible plants. He is the Horticulturalist and Propagator for Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary and the staff photographer. His book Native Plants for New England Gardens was released spring of 2018.


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