IGROW Gardening: Grow me, grow me!

Farm Forum

This week I am starting a new series featuring great plants that really deserve to be grown more in our gardens. Most of these will probably be plants that have performed well for us here at McCrory Gardens but I may discuss others that we haven’t yet grown here in the gardens. Most of the gardeners I know are always looking for something new or different to try in their flower or vegetable gardens or just as an ornamental in your yard. I will try to pick out plants that are especially interesting that week but many of the plants that I will cover can be very interesting for much of the year. Also, if any of you know of a great plant that you just don’t see being grown very much around here, let me know and I may feature it in an upcoming column.

The plant that I have chosen for today is Pulmonaria a.k.a. ‘lungwort’ or ‘spotted dog’ This was a plant that I did not know until I came here to SD and started seeing it in various gardens. With common names like that, who wouldn’t want to see what these plants are and want to try growing them in their garden. Pulmonarias seem to do quite well here in our climate especially if you can plant them in a semi-shady to shady site and give them some extra water during dry periods. But here is why I love it and think more of it should be grown here. First of all, it is one of the first perennials to bloom in our gardens. The flowers are borne in clusters at the top of the flower stems that only appear in the spring. The flowers can range in color from white to pink, blue or lavender and in some cases the same flower might appear in any of those colors depending on how long it has been open.

The flowers will last for a few weeks, but that is not the end of the show. The flower stems also have small leaves which are usually light green to green and spotted. Some cultivar’s leaves are so spotted they almost look white instead of green. About the time the flowers are fading, new, larger, basal leaves develop. These continue to enlarge and grow to produce the foliage for the plant that will last the rest of the growing season. Depending on the cultivar, the leaves may be ovate in shape or they may be longer and more pointed. The whole plant is sparsely covered in short bristly hairs that give the leaves a rough feeling texture. They appear to