Saturday, May 07, 2011

New Plants

Today I went to the annual fundraiser plant sale at the Boise Botanical gardens. We were moving rock in the the front yard most of the early part of the day so I didn't get to the sale till just shortly before they closed. Part of that was deliberate, figuring I didn't need the temptation of all the fine specimen plants they probably had to offer early on. As much a I can I try to avoid buying new plants all together...I trade starts of stuff I have with other gardeners who have things to share, saving us both some cash and making some new friends in the process. But I figured a few new babies to support the sale could not hurt.

I got a black hollyhock that I am very excited about and a really pretty bachelor button called "Amethyst Dream" that has rich purple flowers. Then I let one of the volunteers talk me in to one that I wasn't crazy about, but she said it would do well in nearly full shade and since I have so much shade to cover I thought I'd go ahead and give it a try.

This one is a lungwort, or pulmonaria. I was not at all familiar with it so I looked it up to add it to my inventory of plants. This is what I learned:
"Apart from being a pretty garden flower, old-fashioned common lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) was a favorite medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. It got both its common and Latin names from the curious belief, expressed in the 16th century by a Swiss alchemist in the Doctrine of Signatures, that god made herbs to treat human illnesses and each herb’s physical appearance actually indicated how it should be used. Because the leaves of some lungwort species are oval-shaped with white spots, apothecaries concluded the plant was a sure cure for spotted lungs, i.e. “pulmonary” diseases like pleurisy, tuberculosis or pneumonia. What seems like crazy superstition to us dominated medical thinking in Europe in the 16th and the 17th centuries. Common lungwort has silver-spotted foliage and sprays of mauve buds that open into small blue flowers. It grows about 12 inches (30 cm) high and spreads aggressively by underground runners, making it a good groundcover for wildish, shady places under shrubs or trees." (By Janet Davis at

The plant I got is a bit leggy, but we got it planted back in the shady spot in the back corner of the yard and we'll see how it does.

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