Friday, May 4, 2007

A Word About Lungwort

Bulbs aside, the earliest bloomer in my garden used to be the Mountain Bluet (stay tuned for a future posting about my love/hate relationship with the perennial cornflower). But this spring, the early bloomer title goes to lungwort.

Lungwort is yet another plant with a name that makes me go hmm? Apparently, the spotted oval leaves are reminiscent of an infected or ulcerated lung, hence the inspiration for the name from way back in the day. Even its scientific name Pulmonaria is derived from the Latin meaning "lung." But I digress.

Lungwort's spotted foliage emerged in early April. The droopy purple blossoms opened this week.

I purchased the lungworts last summer, inspired by a garden magazine design suggestion for a partially shady corner. I've got six plants altogether and have been very pleased with their performance. They get early morning sunshine and then spend the afternoon in shade. I make sure they stay fairly damp and keep the clumps neat by pulling away any dead or damaged foliage. The leaves tend to get little holes in them so some creature of the earth is lunching on lungwort. But new leaves grow quite quickly so I don't mind.

Last year, I planted them with white impatiens which turned out to be a very nice combo. I may do the same again this year but perhaps on a smaller scale. That's mainly because I'd like to squeeeze in a few more perennials. I'll take perennials over annuals any day. I have some hostas growing up against a fence behind the lungwort that I am considering moving to the front of the border (they just seem diminutive along the fence.) So that's one possibility. I'm counting on an internet search to find some companion planting suggestions.

Lungwort's early blooms are welcome of course, but I really appreciate its foliage throughout the summer. The big bushy clumps with their white spots brighten a dark patch of garden all season long. Lungwort: the plant that keeps on giving.

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