We’re ready!

Sanguinaria canadense Multi-plex

It has been a busy weekend here at Fernwood! On Saturday, we offered our ‘Early Bloomers and Ephemerals’ class. After a talk and slide show, attendees were able to walk the gardens and view the many early woodland and shade plants gracing the gardens at the moment. So nice to share time with eager gardeners wanting to learn more about those garden gems that are first to bloom here in Maine. Great fun!
The hoop house finally got its new skin. After 5 years, the poly needs replacing and we were happy to have another set of hands to help pull the plastic over and secure it. Thanks, Charles!! It’s looking pretty snazzy…like a kid in their new summer kicks!
We continue to pot up plants for the season, the nursery is well stocked with rows of both new and old selections. Opening day here is Wednesday, May 3rd. Our hours are from 9-5. Regular hours through the season will be Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Visitors can always call or email us for directions and with questions.
It is always exciting (and busy) this time of year. We are putting as many hours into the day as we can fit…”making hay while the sunshines” as they say. Hope to see you this season!
Now, why not a poem…

April Woods: Morning

Birth of color
out of night and the ground.
Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot
newly risen, green leaf
white flower
in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

by Wendell Berry


Picture 2634While working out in the display gardens, I can’t stop gawking at this double bloodroot(Sanguinaria canadense f. Multiplex). Its double flowers are a result of a naturally occurring mutation. Instead of having pistol or stamens, these parts are replaced by flower petals. Because of this, the plant is sterile and will not set seed.The plus side is that the blooms hold longer without this plant’s energy going into seed production.Picture 2638The blooms of single flowering bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadense) often only last for a few days.
Bloodroot, in general, is a good plant choice for areas with tree root competition. It can tolerate drier soils and it’s bright white flowers really create a statement in the early woodland garden. Bloodroot is a North American native perennial found growing in shaded, moist, well-drained ( or dry) woodlands. Bloodroot grows to about 6 to 7 inches tall. It’s light green, palmate, lobed, basal leaf is wrapped around the flower as it emerges and opens as the flowers blooms. The stem of Bloodroot is often reddish when mature and topped by a single white flower consisting of 8 to 12 petals ( unless it’s the double form), with a bright golden center. Bloodroot gets its name from the plants thick root tuber.These thick but tender roots contain a red juice that can stain your skin. Bloodroot has been used medicinally, though with a very careful application and in small doses. As an expectorant and respiratory stimulant, it has been used to treat bronchial problems and severe throat infections. A poultice of bloodroot can be used to treat skin disease, warts, tumors, ringworm, and will even act as an insect repellent. However, bloodroot should be considered toxic and not edible, an overdose in its application can be fatal.Not a plant one should feel at ease going out to harvest and use as a medicinal unless very skillful in preparing (and applying) herbal or homeopathic remedies.
Perhaps it’s just better to enjoy this plants wonderful visual attributes…you won’t be disappointed.Picture 2637


Sanguinaria canadensis f. 'Multiplex'

Sanguinaria canadensis f. ‘Multiplex’

Bloodroot ( Sanginaria canadensis) is native to most of the eastern US. It prefers undisturbed wooded areas that are moist to dry, never wet, in part to full shade. Its ability to grow in dryer areas and compete with tree roots makes it a good choice in the landscape when dealing with maples and other trees that can take over a garden with their own roots. In early spring the leaves emerge clasping the flower stalk which soon opens to a white flower with a yellow center. As the flower opens, the leaves, that can be 6” across, open as well. The leaves are a light green to almost glaucous green, formed in a kidney shape that often have interesting indentions along the margin. The bloom period is short, with the flowers falling off within a couple of days of being fertilized. The double form, Sanguinaria canadensis f. ‘Multiplex’ blooms much longer since it is basically sterile and does not set seed. Although bloom time is short, a patch of bloodroot in full flower is a very impressive sight. We have both forms growing here at the nursery, and it just wouldn’t be spring without them.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If you plant it, you might find that it pops up in areas away from the original plants. This is due to ants that harvest the seed for the fleshy elaiosome that is attached to it. The ants can then carry the seed a considerable distance away from the original plant. The elaiosome, which they eat, is high in lipids and proteins. The seeds are discarded by the ants, and then germinate, spreading the plant around the garden or woodland. Seeds of certain species of plants produce elaiosome specifically to attract ants and other insects to encourage seed dispersal. While we enjoy the beauty of our plants, this arrangement is a design we find both intriguing and amazing.

Bloodroot gets its name from the color of the sap that flows from the root, should it be broken or scraped. The sap is poisonous and can be a skin irritant to some people. It was used by Native Americans as a red dye and also for some medicinal uses (however, ingestion of the plant is not recommended). Further research will give you a lot of information on both the historical, medicinal, and present uses of bloodroot.
Here at Fernwood we enjoy bloodroots early bloom and sharp white flowers that really stand out when the gardens are just getting going. We grow both single and double bloodroot, but only have Sanguinaria canadensis for sale at the moment. Patches of bloodroot are an attractive addition to the woodland landscape and remember to be thankful for those helpful and industrious ants!