This plant has nearly everything going for it including multiple names. It is also called Lungwort or Bethlehem Sage. Pulmonaria has pretty pink bell shaped flowers appearing in April and May, then turn blue as they age. But even after the flowers are gone the leaves bring beauty to the garden. They are fuzzy and green and have white or silver spots. The leaves are semi-evergreen, persisting well after frost. If they start to look ragged just remove them and new ones will fill in. The plant is only about 10 inches tall but spreads to form a patch. This tough plant tolerates sun or shade and very dry or over wet conditions. It also is deer and rabbit resistant.
Ligularia stenocephala – The Rocket; Commonly called Senco or Leopard plant. This is a stately, noble specimen plant with huge leathery leaves. Give this moisture lover room as it can reach heights of 5 feet and easily 5 feet across. The leaves are serrated and deep green on top, with dark maroon/ green on the reverse side and on the stems. We use these huge leaves for making leaf castings. Tall spikes of golden yellow flowers start to climb above the foliage in mid to late summer and are a hummingbird favorite. The plant produces a large number of seeds, but don’t worry, you will not have a million seedlings; the plant is sterile. The plant will do well in part sun to mostly shade and is hardy here in northern WI (zone 4). Ligularia will live in most soils but prefers a rich moist soil. It will tolerate an overly moist soil, but not too much humidity. If the soil is too dry the plant will droop rather than die and in that case will need supplemental watering. There is a light sweet fragrance and the name means sweet smelling roots in Japanese which is where the species is from.
This gorgeous specimen plant is brilliant in the back of a shady border or at the ponds edge, and hardy to zone 3. They get 3 feet tall with a 4 foot spread, and heart shaped leaves that can be a foot across. The foliage emerges burgundy with the leaves turning dark green on the top side, but holding their burgundy color on the underside and stems. Golden to orange/yellow daisy-like flowers emerge in July. Desdemona likes wet soil, and will benefit from part to full shade; but really this architectural beauty is quite easy and will do fine in nearly any conditions. They will take some sun and do fine with less than optimal water.
Bleeding heart has attractive mounded foliage with arching stems of delicate, heart-shaped flowers in spring. It thrives in moist woodland gardens along with ferns and other shade-lovers. They are deer resistant and this is the old fashioned variety favored for cottage gardens that has pink hearts and white teardrops falling from them. The plant is ephemeral which means that the foliage will die back after they flower and reappear the next spring. You may notice seedlings; transplant them to a desired spot.$5.00
Vibrant pink feathery flower spikes appear from June thru August. You can cut them and hang to dry for arrangements. Glossy deep green foliage is deeply cut and very graceful. The stems are also pink. This tough hardy perennial is not bothered by pests or disease. Leave seed heads standing for winter interest. Prefers part shade with loamy moist soil, but can be grown in sun if it is watered enough. The plant is 2 feet tall with an 18” spread. It attracts butterflies and humming birds and is resistant to rabbits and deer.
This nice little native woodland plant makes a wonderful ground cover for your garden, too. It does best in shaded areas that have moist acidic soils. Wild Ginger only gets about 6” tall and is deer resistant! The heart shaped leaves can be 6” but more often are 3” and the leaves and stems are fuzzy. It is nice with ephemerals as it will stay around when they fade. There is a little dark red to brown flower that is often not noticed as it hangs down below the leaves. It is an important plant for the Pipe vine swallowtail Butterfly. It is edible and has been used medicinally.