April is a month of renewal in the garden, I love to walk around, find those early bloomers and marvel at the beauty of it all. The weather has been completely unreliable here in Western Pennsylvania, we go from 60 and 70 degrees to days were we barely have gotten out of the 30’s. But plants continue to grow and are almost determined to fulfill their mission. Here is what is blooming in my garden:
This last plant was a throw away that a friend did not like: Leopard’s bane, I rescued a small cutting and three years later, it has formed an emerald green ground cover in deep shade. Oval, highly serrated leaves, form a thick mat were nothing else grew in the past. In April, an additional bonus, clusters of daisy like flowers floating on long stems, that last for weeks!
I look forward to seeing this fleeting flowers every year. One of the first early spring bloomers, flowers of pure white appear in the almost bare ground and precede the foliage. Sanguinaria canadensis, or Bloodroot Is a wonderful native for the shade garden. As the leaves unfurl, the flowers disappear, but are replaced by handsome large, rounded grayish leaves that form a nice patch. Although not an aggressive grower, this plant multiplies nicely every year. Originally a woodland species it thrives in shady hummus rich shade gardens.
The common name relates to the fact that most parts of the plant “bleed” red orange juice when cut. Native Americans used this plant to dye clothing and decorate clothing and weapons. It was widely used as a medicinal herb as it is both an expectorant and diuretic. A member of the poppy family it has the same narcotic properties. It was also used as a local anesthetic. What I love about most of this native herb is that deer and rabbits do not touch it. Perhaps because of its medicinal value they instinctively know not to ingest it. No part of this plant is to be taken internally.
Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’ has double much longer lasting flowers and is striking in bloom; ‘Plena’ is another double flowering form. I have not found a source for these varieties and have not seen them in a garden setting, but have read that the foliage is not as striking thought the season.