Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'

One of my spring favorites, Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum' or Variegated Solomon Seal. It is blooming in many places throughout the gardens and we will be giving quite a bit away this weeked in honor of Mothers' Day to moms and moms-to-be who visit the nursery on Sunday, May 8th. So if you're nearby, please stop to tour the gardens - and smell the lilacs.
Polygonatums are shade creatures, or at least dappled light types. They like woodsy situations with ample moisture, though I've not seen them happy in really damp places. There are many different types and maybe I'll do a post on some of the others some time soon. They range from tiny, 8 inch tall plants, to some that top 4 feet tall.
This particular one is about 2 feet tall, though in the right spot, it might reach 3 feet. It grows happily in gardens from zone (3)4 to 8. Blooming starts in late April here and last for a couple of weeks. The bell shaped flowers seem to attract lots of bumble bees, thought they don't seem designed to pollinate them and they are considerably larger than the flowers. If the flowers do get pollinated, you will see dark blue berries in the fall. Not that you need berries or seeds to get more plants. They spread by underground runners and will, over time, make a nice patch. They are easy to transplant, which is why we have small patches in many places now.
The stems are burgundy colored, though the color is more pronounced some years than others. This year it is especially good. Maybe it is all the rain we've been having. I've noticed that colors everywhere in the garden are really nice - and plants are getting huge. The leaves are edged in creamy white, a narrow margin but quite noticeable.
These are native to Europe and Asia, but have some relative in the U.S. They are commonly available from mail order nurseries and you might even find them in a small local nursery, though I've never seem them at any of the big box stores. They are easy to grow, so if you have space and shade, you really should try some. As I said, we're giving some away this weekend, so if you're in the Athens Ohio area, please stop by to get some.

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