Behold! My Pulmonaria has finally opened a flower! Now that it has begun to flower, it is clear the family ties are true. Being a member of the Boraginaceae, or Borage family, Pulmonaria sp. generally have hairy leaves (among other parts) and a five-lobed corolla that is fused at the base. Also consistent with many in the Boraginaceae, there are hairs, or trichomes, inside the flower protecting the nectar or possibly excluding tiny insects that would be ineffective at pollinating the flowers.
Comparing the one above (seed grown) to the one below (a horticultural selection, a clone), you may first notice the lack of spots in the former. Also note the flowers. My seed grown form has open flowers, while the cultivar below has the typical cup-shaped corollas of most selected forms. To combine the best qualities of both forms would be awesome.
And finally, a color accurate depiction of my plant in situ below. It contrasts nicely with the needle duff, an automated annual mulch that finely coats the area. It also looks like this form reproduces will via division, as there appear to be a number of clonal offshoots surrounding the main plant.
Pulmonaria also goes by the name Lungwort (as well as other "lung" related names in different languages). It was once thought that the spotted leaves of some species looked like diseased lungs, so were used medicinally to treat lung disease. The strange thing is, they were right! The leaves are in fact used to treat a variety of respiratory disorders in the form of a tea or tincture, and are probably also useful as a poultice. However, the plant does contain some toxic alkaloids, so should only be used internally under the care of a professional.
This species of Viola has popped up in my yard. I'm not sure what it is, but I have planted it close to a group of Viola odorata to see if they will hybridize. It may not work, as many species of violets make seed before even opening their flowers. It's a type of asexual reproduction that created offspring identical to the seed parent (the sole parent).
Sweet violets are great, gentle companions to many other plants. In this bed, they grow harmoniously with Cimicifuga, Lilium hybrids, Epimedium (below), Pulmonaria, Sanguinaria, and Scilla siberica (also in flower now).
New leaves of an Epimedium hybrid, though I forget the name. These new leaves are tiny now, roughly 3/8" long, and hard to see. However, I always look for signs of new growth this time of year. In the Autumn when I planted this, something has done in and eaten it to the ground. This wasn't really an issue, as that is something I would have done anyhow. Removing the old leaves lets you see the new growth, and the eventual (hopefully) flowers unobstructed.
Walking the yard, I found this Pacific hound's tongue on the Eastern edge of the yard under pine and madrone trees. Perhaps a result of the nature of the soil, the leaves of this Cynoglossum have always had a reddish tinge. Peculiar.
Henderson's stars, as they are often called, are coming into bloom very early this year. This individual is more advanced than any other, the flowers ready to open on any warm sunny day. Early flowering would benefit this species, before other wildflowers come in to bloom and compete for pollinator attention.
Back to the intentional garden, the blue hyacinths I have are further along than the white ones. Even in bud, these are stunning plants. Closely related to Scilla and Hyacinthoides, they are likewise attractive to bees, particularly bumblebees, who may be attracted by the strongly scented flowers.
An early daffodil in the lawn, my attempt at naturalization. This is a random hybrid that came in a "naturalizing mix" a few years ago. This one, and a few others, didn't flower well last year in a sunny spot at the foot of some conifers, so I moved them to the middle of the lawn to see if they would cope better.
If your plants are suffering, move them. Even a few feet can sometimes make the difference between life and death, or at least good or bad performance. A flowering plant is normally a sign of a happy plant. Make them happy.
|Crocus vernus 'Pickwick'|
To conclude, here is an excellent Dutch Crocus selection. It rivals the beauty of even the most rare and desirable Crocus species, and is attractive to bees with its copious supply of pollen, but more on that later.