Sunday, April 21, 2013
Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, has a long sad history here. Numerous unsuccessful attempts to find a place where it will grow and multiply have been made. Moisture seems to be the critical issue. Soil needs to be well drained but not too well drained. Ample moisture is needed but not too much moisture. In Irma's woods a solitary large patch of bloodroot flourishes but it only grows there in that one place. That location is near but higher than a wet rocky spring run. Since rocky spring runs are common in that area, there must also be some specific soil condition necessary for bloodroot to grow.
All of these bloodroot flowers will be gone in little more than one week. Leaves remain until early summer when this spot will become a patch of bare ground. Despite the complete lack of any visible plant then, underground life forces continue. When dry spells hit I must remember to carry water here. That is a real problem. Taking time to water bare ground when the garden is full of withered dry plants is no easy task. Last summer I placed the bloodroot patch on the must water list. The only other plant on that list was arbutus.
The photo shows varied stages of how bloodroot gets above the soil litter. A tightly wrapped sharply pointed leaf protects the flower bud as it pushes itself above ground. Then the leaf begins to unwrap while the bud climbs higher. The flowers close every night. They also close on cold days.
Why is a simple white flower worth all of this fuss? I cannot begin to find an answer to that question. These flowers are among many that mark the beginning of another season in the garden but none have been more difficult to grow here. Still, the nine plants showing in the picture are more than the number planted. We will need another good year if we are to equal the number of plants that have died here under our care.