Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentines Greetings

Thursday, February 12, 2009

38 degrees here on the mountain and the rain continues to fall. It's been raining off and on all night and the fog generated by the temperature change since yesterday's momentary 57 degree high floats across the snow as if looking for something Stephen King wrote. Just the same, Valentines Day is approaching and its a day for gardeners and others not to forget.

Bleeding Heart is a flowering plant that was prevalent in most every New England garden when I was a kid. I was fascinated by its pendant beauty and always remember the first time Eunice, the +90 year old matriarch of the next door farm picked off two hearts from her favorite plant, gently opened my hand and placed each heart side by side. "Friends, good friends" was all she said. The words and the smile come back to me every time I see a Bleeding Heart and sometimes a shed a tear with the memory.

These are easy to grow plants that will last a long time if you consider a good placement with well amended soil with good friability. They like moisture but during the year they cannot handle any standing water. Dicentra spectabilis as I have pictured here does better for us where sun prevails but planting not far inside a forest shade line will work too.

The long flower scapes actually make fine cut flowers "if" you sear the cut stems with a match first. You'll notice the sap has a bad smell that Gail is quick to comment on but if you want an early arrangement to jump start your spirits, give some a try with the match-sear routine included. All bleeding hearts are poisonous and some people have a reaction to the sap. I catch poison ivy just thinking about it but have never had a problem with bleeding hearts or any of the family including the wild Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, which I love.

We planted a number of large roots along a fence line years ago. Today the fencing is sagging with age but the bleeding hearts are going strong. We clean out each plant come spring so the new growth can spring into action without impediment. It's amazing how quickly they grow. On the plant their period of enjoyment is relative to spring rains and wind and inside, their vase life is about 4 days. As the garden grown plants mature on into spring, hearts drop off but it's not uncommon to find some tucked away and holding tight when the first days of July approach here. That's not true most places but our climate makes the difference.

This year we have some good 3-4 eye plants ordered in and they will probably be planted in gallon and a half pots. If you cannot find any locally, they will be for sale at the nursery and via our website. Order early as this was one of the most requested plants last year that customers and visitors didn't find in the area. We will also have a selection of Dicentra eximia, aka wild bleeding heart, eastern bleeding heart, fringed bleeding heart or woodland bleeding heart. These are all very nice too.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Gail just returned from slip-sliding down the icy road with Karl the Wonder Dog. I like the dog but I didn't need the shake-shake-shake he just presented that rewarded me with a dripping left side and a moist keyboard. Oh well, dogs are like that!

Lovely Valentines Greetings to All!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
Vermont Gardens


joey said...

One of my favorites George ... Happy Valentine's Day!

Teza said...

What beautiful and totally appropriate flowers when one thinks of Valentine's Day... for me much more than the rose. I have eximia 'Snowdrift' which is divine as well as the white form of D spectabilis... they too bring back memories of one who is no longer with me, but she will always be close at 'heart'. Thanks for a wonderful post on such a dreary and snowy day!

lynn'sgarden said...

Bleeding Hearts is my all time favorite for spring celebration. Lovely photos! They are pretty easy to move around too...just when they look dead and didn't seem to take, they survive. I have a few white ones too but they're not as showy as the bright pinks.