Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Have Mayapples, Will Travel

Free, Gardening, Just for fun!

One of the great things about gardening is that there are usually plants to share with others. If a specimen is doing well, invariably there will come a time when it needs dividing or thinning. Sometimes a particular plant does a little too well and spreads itself to places you don't want it. That is when your garden clean up can be another gardener's boon.

Last year a friend in my neighborhood mentioned she wanted to start some Mayapples. Since I really hate to see someone spend their money on plants that are so prolific*, I mentioned I had some and would share some when I had a chance. This spring I dug a few out for her so she could get a patch started. 

As I was digging, I got to thinking about my Mayapple plant's history.

Back in 1968 my family was camping in the West Bend area. I was also volunteering that summer at the Milwaukee Public Museum in the plant department. We were working on a Wisconsin Woodlands exhibit and my boss, Roberta Plumber needed some Mayapples to make a vac-u-form type mold from. My mother and I, avid wildflower enthusiasts, noted that at the campground there were lots of Mayapples. We asked the owners if we could have some and they were willing to share. So 4 Mayapples traveled from West Bend to Shorewood.

Mom and I planted 2 in our shady back yard and I carried the remaining 2 in a bucket (on the bus) to the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Mrs. Plumber made her plaster molds of the large umbrella type leaves and was able to vac-u-form many plastic leaves from those molds for the display. The Mapples stayed in the bucket for weeks to serve as a sample for color and structure until the exhibit was finished. (We added wire and beeswax stems and then sprayed them with acrylic paint. They looked quite real.)

Talk about tough, those 2 plants survived in the bucket in the museum plant department for weeks. When we were finished with them, I trucked them home again on the bus (talk about a conversation starter!) and planted them with the others.

When I got married in 1977, I brought some to my Riverwest home to start a wildflower shade garden. When we moved out here in 1986, I brought a few with me to start some Mayapple areas here.

Now, 40 years after the first transplant, they move on again to my friend's. Who knows where they will go next?

There are lots of plants in my garden that have come from friends and neighbors. I remember the story behind each one. You could say my garden is not only a garden of plants but of memories too. It is one of the many things that make gardening enjoyable to me.

If you admire a friend or neighbor's plants, I think a polite way to ask for a plant is to say, If you ever have to thin them, and you have extras, could I have a start? Most gardeners will be more than happy to oblige.

Next time you are at the Milwaukee Public Museum, look for the Mayapples in the Wisconsin Woodlands display. You now know a little bit more about them!

Mayapples are considered to be a thug of the garden by some (they take over), but I have not had that problem. Their unusual large leaf makes a nice contrast in shady areas, and they are tough!

Mayapples are used for medicinal purposes by some in the medical field. They are not to be used by lay-people, as parts of the plant are poisonous!

*Last year at the Mary Knoll Weed Out, one woman told me she purchased Wood Violets. I told her to give me a call, I have plenty for free! I have seen them for sale for around $4.00 each. 

A reader reported she has hostas with a traveling history too and "can picture them in three states, with a number of friends and neighbors." She also noted the Trillium in the photo. That Trillium was native to Kinsey Park Drive (my street), but not my home. My great uncle was a home builder in the late 1940s - 1950s and built several houses on my street. One site had trilliums in the excavation path. He dug them up and gave the plants to his daughters and nieces (one was my mom). She planted in Shorewood at our house. I took some to Riverwest when I married and eventually back to Kinsey Park Drive in Brookfield. So my Trilliums literally went full circle--just a block west from their original location!


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