So, I've decided to start a new series on my blog: Green Day (I haven't decided which day yet). Each post will feature a plant that's native to my area (southern Ontario), preferably even living in my garden. Likely, this series will bore the pants off you, but it's my wee attempt at activism. If just one of you decides to try just one native plant as a result of my blog, please tell me, and all the boredom will be worth it.
I've touched on it here before, but allow me to repeat myself. There are MANY reasons to choose native plants for your garden, among them:
- they're easier than exotics; you don't have to do a thing, really, except thin them out from time to time, and give a little water to seedlings if the weather is particularly dry.
- they use fewer resources than exotics, i.e., less water, no pesticides, no fertilizers
- they contribute to biodiversity and provide food and homes for fauna whose homes and food are increasingly threatened, especially butterflies and birds
- they don't threaten our natural, native plant ecosystems; while there are some exotics that are well behave and don't escape into the wild, many of our favourites like lily of the valley and myrtle are invasive and outcompete our native species. Lily of the valley and myrtle are by far not the worst culprits for invasion (no the worst ones are in my backyard: goutweed and Manitoba maples) but they're popular. And a lot of nurseries don't warn you or sell only the well behaved ones (I think tulips, daffodils and lilacs would count as well behaved).
- They're beautiful in a slightly less showy less bloomy but more appealing with nicer foliage way (to me anyways).
- They attract butterflies, bees and birds (just in case that point got buried above).
Ok, so now that I've gotten the preamble taken care of, I give you today's feature plant: sanguinaria canadensis or Bloodroot.
It's a woodland plant, preferring shady conditions, especially deciduous shade (the kind that means full, bright spring sunshine with shade from the harsher summer sun), but it does fine in my northeastern facing front garden, which only gets morning sun in the later summer. This afternoon, only a day or two after the snow finally melted from this shaded area, I saw its orangeish reddish greenish white pointy tips piercing the soil already. It gets lovely white blooms, bigger than you'd expect but also more delicate and prone to getting blown away. The broad, irregularly shaped leaves, though, are my favourite part of this plant. They last way longer than the blooms, and they just seem so damn whimsical to me, especially the way they wrap around the stem as it grows up, then unfurls itself like an open hand waiting for a handout.
The plant is named for its red sap, and I think it has been used for medicinal properties, but I can't remember what they are, and I'm pretty sure it carries significant and dangerous side effects.
I think it's native to most of northeastern North America. Feel free to check out some of the web and print resources I listed in this post.
And yay! Kgirl, who I love love love got awarded for a thinking blogger award. Her combination of responsible organizer yet hipster earth mother always makes me think. Yippee! AND she passed on the honour to me. Mad also proclaimed me a thinking a blogger, a while back, so I'll point you to the post I did then because I'm feeling lazy.
I will take advantage to kindly remind kgirl that I tagged her a LONG time ago for whenever she started blogging again... and look, she's blogging again... if she's up for it.