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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Shade Lover Pulmonaria

Yesterday, I wasn't feeling well, and today I had to run up to Michigan for a memorial service, so this will be short and sweet.

Often I hear people complaining that they don't know what to grow in the shade. After having my gardens in Connecticut, which were predominantly shade, I usually snort at such things.

I chose this to share with you today because the blue is the color I chose to wear to the service.....black is a color I look horrible in and trying to find something in my closet which is subdued is...well, difficult.

Pulmonaria saccharata, or Lungwort is a wonderful choice for the shade. Another common name for it is Bethlehem sage. I have several different varieties as the amount of spotting and the color of the flowers varies from cultivar to cultivar. It's dark out, and raining, so I'm not going to run out and check. Flower colors vary from white, to deep raspberry and of course, the wonderful periwinkle blue which is the standard. The flowers often change color as they mature.

Some of the varieties I own are Roy Davidson, Mrs. Moon, Raspberry Splash, and Majeste, but I'm pretty sure that this particular wonder is "Excalibur."

Pulmonarias love humousy soils and don't like to dry out...they'll let you know when they need water as the terminals will get brown. I find that they are tough little plants with few problems. One source I read said that they are slow to establish, but I didn't find them so either in the acid soil of Connecticut nor the alkaline soils I have here.

Native to Europe and Asia, lungworts got their name from what is termed "sympathetic medicine." In other words, herbs and plant materials which looked like the problem were taken to cure them. In this case, the spotted leaves and leaf shape told indicated that they should be taken for lung aliments...the spots looked like ulcerated lungs!

Division is simple and is usually done in the fall or after the flowers have faded away. Well worth growing...but I don't recommend chomping on the leaves...

3 comments:

Vivien Zepf said...

I concur! These are growing in my shade garden and add a wonderful color to it.

So sorry to hear that you're not feeling well and that you had to go to a memorial service. My condolences.

Jessica said...

I don't grow them because I like my plants to be touchable and they aren't very friendly that way. Ouch!

My condolences as well.

Jessica

Dennis said...

The author is correct. Pulmonarias absolutely do not tolerate dry soils. My languish whenever we have a dry stretch.

There is an interesting article on this Pulmonarias at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, NC - (www.plantdelights.com/Catalog/Plants/Genus/Pulmonaria)