Plants, Plants, Plants

SPRING IS SPRUNG, and an aging woman's fancy turns to plants. A visit to the local farmer's market proved beyond rewarding this morning, despite a drenching rain. I was able to meet, for the first time in person, both Jane Blackburn, owner of Woodlands & Meadows Nusery, and by favorite gardening writer, Jodi DeLong, author of the Bloomingwriter blog.

Jodi, who is just as warm and engaging in person as she is on her blog, observed a time-honored tradition by sharing plants from her garden. She brought me a giant wad of Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum pubescens (aka Hairy Solomon's Seal to distinguish it from Smooth Solomon's Seal, P. biflorum), which is native from Nova Scotia to Ontario and as far south as Georgia and Iowa.*

Jodi also brought me a clump of Purple Trillium, Trillium erectum (aka Wake-Robin), which is shown in the photo above. Trilliums are among the most beloved of native woodland wildflowers, and most parts of North America have at least one native species. This one is native from Nova Scotia to Manitoba, and as far south as Georgia and Tennessee.

And Jodi's gifts were the first course, whetting my appetite for plant purchases ahead. From Jane, amazing plantswoman that she is, I acquired:
  • May-apple, Podophyllum peltatum, which is found from Nova Scotia and Quebec to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas. Although it's considered an introduced species in Nova Scotia, where I live, it is native to most of eastern North America, and I consider it more than "native enough" for gardening purposes. My friend Brett Johnson, a plantsman in the Seattle area, calls plants such as these "nearly natives."
  • Dutchman's breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, which is native from Nova Scotia to Ontario and south to Georgia and Missouri. According to the USDA Plants Database, it is also native to the Pacific Northwest. An interesting tidbit about this plant is that its seeds are spread by ants. It was considered medicinal by Native Americans.
  • Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, which is native from Nova Scotia to Manitoba and south to Florida. This one also is spread by ants, and the Wikipedia has an extensive entry on its chemical properties!
  • Trout Lily, Erythonium americanum (aka Dog's-Tooth Violet or Yellow Adder's Tongue), which is native from Nova Scotia to Lake Superior and south to Florida and Oklahoma. I happen to think that this is a particularly charming Erythronium, with its bright yellow upcurved petals. But various trout lilies (so called because of the trout-like markings on the foliage) are native all across North America.
  • Wild Lily, Lilium canadense (aka Yellow Lily or Canada Lily), which is native from Nova Scotia to Ontario and south to Alabama and Virginia. This is a striking plant which can grow as tall as five feet. (After Jane showed me a photo of it in bloom, I would have mugged her for it; good thing she had one for sale!) Apparently it's becoming rare. But with Jane's help, maybe I can do my bit to bring it back again.
  • And finally, last but certainly not least:
  • Pride of Ohio Shooting Star, Dodecatheon meadia: This is another one that, being native to eastern North America, is "native enough" for gardening purposes. Besides, I have a soft spot for the Dodecatheons, with their little pink flowers that do indeed resemble shooting stars. The photo at left shows a shooting star, probably few-flowered shooting star (D. pulchellum), growing with (tall, dark blue) Common Camas (Camassia quamash) in a garden I designed for a client outside of Seattle.

Thank you, Jodi! Thank you, Jane!

* Unless otherwise stated, all information about where plants are native is taken from Roland's Flora of Nova Scotia, revised by Marian Zinck and published by Nimbus Publishing and the Nova Scotia Museum in 1998.

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