Thursday, May 22, 2008
The thin end of the wedge
For many reasons, I have never fully embraced spring-blooming perennials. I love bulbs, but brunnera, myosotis, dicentra spectabilis, primula, pulsatilla, bergenia, and other plants that display in cold spring weather have eluded my obsession. Selfishly, I prefer plants that I can enjoy while it is enjoyable for me to be outdoors. I’ve often thought many of the early spring plants have been foisted upon us by British gardeners, who have a nicer, if dampish, spring climate.
Oddly enough, however, among the first plants I ever bought as a beginning gardener were hellebores. It was their oddness that drew me to them. Wayside Gardens, a company that I have never ordered another plant from since that time, advertised them on the back of their catalogs as unique, multi-colored Lenten roses. It must have been the “rose” part that attracted me; I was obsessed with roses in those days.
Year later, those two plants from Wayside are huge, thriving clumps. They must like where they are; another plant from the same order, the super-aggressive silver lace vine, died within a week. For about seven years, those hellebores were the only spring-blooming perennials I had, apart from spring bulbs (and many of my spring bulbs are treated as annuals, as I’ve often mentioned).
Until now. I picked up another couple hellebores recently, fancier ones, and I also have two dicentra formosa (one pink and one white) that start very early in the spring and don’t stop until frost. I think these may go by “eximia” now, but I’m not sure. And then came the lamium. Some of those start in early May, as does my favorite groundcover sweet woodruff (used to be gallium, now asperula).
But I really think my commitment to spring perennials was cemented when I picked up this pulmonaria (above and top). I think it’s the Majeste. I love the foliage and if it remains attractive throughout the summer, I will definitely plant more. Here you see it surrounded by falling cherry blossom; the pink-to-blue blooms are wonderful. (Those changeable flowers again.)
But I can definitely see some brunnera and bergenia in my future.