Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Liberal Plant Signals Spring

One of the genuine delights of this moment of our year is to walk out into the backyard of the Smith Plantation on a 62-degree, sun-drenched morning, coffee cup in hand and absorb our bright, enthusiastic bleeding heart plant in full flower. It's the one covering a goodly portion of the garden spot to the left of the walkway. It is huge, healthy, cheerful and inviting, the kind of carrier of spring fever that lures us in for a deep drink of its beauty and promise.

The bleeding heart (Dicentra Spectabilis and sometimes called "Dutchman's trousers" because it resembles those, as well), is shown here in both red and white iterations from my back yard. It is a native of Japan (so's kudzu, brought over to the Philadelphia Expo in 1896 and covering barns ever since) and can come in several color combinations. The father of an old friend of mine bred the reds with the whites and came up with two varieties: red with white dripping "blood" and vice-versa.

There are some of these plants available on Roanoke City Market this time of the year. Pick a nice one and plant it in good soil, in a shaded area. Break it in half every three years and plant that half nearby. Soon you'll have a field of them.

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