Thursday, 18 March 2010

Thursdays favourite plant

This ones a cracker

Pulmonaria Lungwort or blue cowslip.

Image via flickr (and its a gorgeous photostream)

If you're looking for a beautiful early spring perennial, that's adored by big fat bumblebees looking for a yummy treat after a long cold winter, then I absolutely recommend Pulmonaria. A woodland edge native of mainland Europe its perfect for shady gardens or growing under trees or hedges. Its a really low maintenance plant, fairly low growing, and self seeding. Its fully hardy, disease resistant although it can be prone to powdery mildew in dry hot areas but this is easily dealt with by removing the dying leaves in autumn and disposing of them (never compost) and slugs have no interest in it neither do rabbits or deer. It will grow on all soils and is particularly happy on heavy clay soils.
There are many different varieties with different flower colour such as redstart (red flowered) and sissinghurst white (white flowered funnily enough) It also has lovely foliage which give it it's common name of lungwort (more on that later), There's a gorgeous one with metallic silver leaves which I've been hunting for for ages.

They produce masses and masses of flowers from the end of January (only if its mild) through to the end of April. I find a bit of deadheading helps prolong them.
One of the things I love most about the flowers is how they change colour, starting pink in bud opening to bright blue and fading to purple.

The reason Pulmonaria has the common name of lungwort is to do with the mottling on the leaves. Centuries ago doctors/herbalists saw features in plants that bore resemblance to Human body parts and aliments. These plants were then used to treat aliments and conditions. This philosophy became the doctrine of signitures. So lungwort resembling diseased lungs was used to treat pulmonary disorders. The Botanical name even represents this (I have an almost nerdish love of Latin names and their meanings and descriptions but I shan't bore you with that). Another good example of this is with the flower eyebright Lungwort was used during the bubonic plague to try and cure the black death.
Like most medicinal herbs it has a host of folkloric stories like being the herb of the virgin Mary with the spots on the leaves representing her tears and the changing of the flower colour the colour of crying eyes, and being able to ward of and reveal witch's. But nearly all plants in medieval times could do that except the ones that were used by witch's (I also have a nerdish love of plant history and folklore).

Jess xx

P.S how flipping fast do baby chicks grow, they are all sprouting wing feathers and leaping about like nobodies business, will get some photos up soon.


Chicken Boys said...

They grow too flipping fast. We had some start hatching last night. More this morning. But they will have feathers in no time.

Sara said...

HI Jess, How cute are your little chicks?!!!! and yes, they do grow amazingly fast lol! I have 8 duck eggs in my incubator atm, hatch date of 31 March so hoping to have cute fluffies of my own around soon :0)Will give you a call shortly to arrnage collecting the little silkie x girls. Let me know if you want any duck hatching eggs, or maybe even a duckling if they all hatch out OK. Looking forward to meeting you very much. Love n hugs, Sara xxxx


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