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Posted on Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

County Farm Park's Britton Woods is a native plant must-see

By Rick Meader

trillium grandiflorum-white and pink-cfp.JPG

Both the same species, the Large Flowered Trillium's brilliant white slowly changes to pink as it gets older. Which of these flowers is older?

Rick Meader | Contributor

Quick! Move fast! This warm weather is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing for obvious reasons, wearing shorts without getting goose pimples is one. It’s a curse because our wonderful spring ephemerals display their beauty for a much shorter period of time.

Given that, I have a suggestion for you that you should follow if at all possible, especially if you live in Ann Arbor, and it’s this. Visit the Washtenaw County Farm Park’s Britton Woods in the next few days.

You can get a glimpse of thousands of white flowers as you whiz by County Farm Park’s Britton Woods, but you really should keep your eyes on the road. You should also make time to get to the park to tour the oak-hickory forest in the next few days, because right now it is featuring a dazzling display of the combined power of nature and repeated ecological restoration efforts. Nature’s efforts are the creation of thousands of large flowered trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, blooming bright white until the flower ages, revealing an increasingly dark pink until the flower’s bloom is done.

Along with the trillium are thousands of lavender Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) which are just starting to bloom. Interestingly, and a good example of plants having preferred habitats, the trillium are dominant on the north facing slope leading down to Malletts Creek, and the geraniums are more dominant at the top of the hill.

Along with these plants, you can also find Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens), False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina racemosa), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum) and a number of native trees and shrubs including oaks, hickories, cherries and viburnums.

trillium-burned log-cfp.JPG

The burned log in the center is a clue that prescribed burns have contributed to the spectacular display of trillium and other wildflowers at the County Farm Park's Britton Woods every spring.

Rick Meader | Contributor

The efforts of continued ecological restoration at the park are also evident, and have contributed significantly to the great display on now. As you walk into the woods from the Medford Pavilion parking lot, you can see evidence of a recent prescribed burn in the woods, one of many that have been done there.

Along with these burns, thousands of invasive shrubs and small trees, not to mention scads of garlic mustard plants, have been removed to provide sunlight and room for these native plants to show their true colors. Without these ongoing efforts, there might be small pockets of wildflowers, but you can still see in areas of the woods that haven’t been rescued yet how the invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn trees can really choke off the woods from their natural condition.

It’s an easy visit to the woods from the Medford Pavilion parking lot. Just head into the woods and keep going until you’re surrounded by wildflowers. You’ll be very glad you did.

Well, we moved from our old home with hundreds of species, mostly native, to a new home with one species - lawn, so until I get it planted up, I won’t be making any reports of what’s blooming in our yard. Perhaps you all can tell others what’s blooming in and around your own yards in the comments. In the meantime, get out and enjoy nature everyone!

Rick Meader is a local landscape architect whose firm, Ecological Edge LLC, specializes in creating designs for homes, businesses and even churches that include a lot of native plants (and the wildlife they attract). You can contact him at


Rick Meader

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Thanks Jackie and Bob for your comments. And, Bob, I'm glad to let you know about the woods. It's amazing to have such a great display in the center of town.

Bob Needham

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Rick, thanks for writing about this. I wasn't really aware of this woods.

Jackie Byars

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

In my yard: trilliums, geraniums, columbines, and TREES! redbud, flowering dogwood! The serviceberry finished blooming over a week ago. There are probably other flowers, but I just returned from a trip and haven't had time to do the whole tour and to poke around for the less obvious ones (like ginger).