Saturday, March 8, 2003

New life for your garden

Pulmonarias flower early and stay beautiful long after the blooms are gone

[photo] Pulmonaria "Moonshine"
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[photo] Pulmonaria "Trevi Fountain"
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Pulmonarias, or lungworts, are underappreciated perennials that provide season-long interest to the garden. They bloom in early spring, coming on the heels of late winter bulbs, and remain in flower until the end of April.

Small clusters of dainty, bell-shaped pulmonaria flowers appear in shades of lavender or violet-blue, white, pink and red. Often you'll find pink and blue flowers on the same stem. They blend perfectly with softly colored tulips, narcissus and delicately tinted primroses.

Lungwort foliage can be as decorative as the blossoms, and will freshen any mixture of greens in a woodland or shade garden.

Lungwort leaves are most often wedge-shaped, but long and narrow in several species and almost heart-shaped in others. Most leaves are coarse in texture and hairy. But the central attraction of the newer pulmonaria forms is the decidedly spotted leaves, appearing as if splashed or mottled with silver and white.

Contact Tim Morehouse by Web site:; mail: c/o Cincinnati Enquirer. (If writing, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)

Tips for novice gardeners

• Plant pulmonaria in partial shade where soil is moist and rich.

• Space according to length of the plants' leaves, 10-12 inches apart.

• If foliage becomes tatty at the end of summer, cut back to ground level.

Mail order: J.W. Seed Co., (800) 247-5864. Free catalog.

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