May 17, 2007

Struggling up the ladder

I was feeling morose a while back. My beautiful Jacob's ladder (the Bressingham Purple) looked deader than a doornail. Polemoniums normally come through the winter with most of their foliage intact, but all I could see were dead stubs. I was, quite frankly, miffed. I'd grown rather attached to this particular form of Jacob's ladder, with its purplish cast and long-lasting flowers. It looked particularly nice with a frothing of deadnettle at its feet.

And then the other day I was doing my normal poking around and what did I see? This.

Bressingham Purple Jacob's ladder
None of the reading I've done on this cultivar mentioned that it was a late riser or that it behaved differently than other Polemoniums. So as a public service I'm letting you know you shouldn't give up too quickly on this baby. It remains to be seen if it will come back as strong as last year. If it doesn't, I'll conclude that it's only borderline hardy in this zone, and make sure I mulch it well next winter.

For now, I am happy to see that it is coming back at all. There are a few residents of my garden that are missing in action or a bit worse for wear. But I'll tell the sob stories later. For the time being I am looking at my bleeding heart with a real sense of awe. A square metre they said it needed. Piffle! This thing is more than a metre across in its third year and the poor grape-leaved anemone behind it is feeling a bit crowded. Not for nothing that all its new shoots have sprouted further away from its rather overbearing neighbour. But I love it all the same.

Bleeding heart

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18 comments:

Kasmira said...

Your bleeding heart is lovely! What's your secret?

I WISH I could grow Jacob's Ladder, but I've heard that cats like it as much as catnip. It wouldn't stand a chance with my 4 babies and the neighborhood tom.

Janet said...

Kasmira, I have no secrets. I planted it, it grows. I feed my beds leaves and occasional compost or manure.

As for the Jacob's ladder, I never heard that, and neither has my cat. She leaves it alone, as do the occasional feline visitors. You might want to give it a try if you like it.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Yay! Glad to hear that the Jacob's Ladder came back--and glad to see that you're back, too. :)

It's funny, but you seem to grow a whole bunch of the plants that are on my wishlist. The Bressingham Purple polemonium, the Peach Flambe heuchera, etc. Speaking of the latter, how did it overwinter for you this year?

Janet said...

BSG, the heuchera is coming back fairly nicely. It's not as vigorous as my Palace Purples or Sparkling Burgundy, but it's alive and healthy. It's quite orange at this time of year, but gets purpler as the season progresses.

And yes, I know that's not good English. ;o)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I understood what you meant, so that sounds like perfectly functional English to me! :) Thanks for the feedback, Janet.

bogie said...

My jacob's ladder always dies all the way back, and always comes back fromthe roots.

My cats ignore it (and so do the neighbor's cats), so go ahead and plant some Kasmira.

Your bleeding heart is awesome! Mine are doing quite well themselves.

Sylvana said...

I have this variety of Jacob's ladder. It is the only one that I have been able to grow. I split one plant and am growing one half in mostly shade and one half in full sun and both are doing just fine. And both die back to the ground every year (zone 4).

Your bleeding heart is lovely. I am trying to grow a big patch of them and this is the first year that I have actually had any success in growing them.

Janet said...

Thanks, Sylvana. It's good to know that it wasn't some weird quirk or a lack of protection. When does yours bloom normally?

Brenda said...

I am jealous of your bleeding heart plant, it's growing so big and full. Mine died, I am heart broken.

Love your garden :) Bren
http://benzy55.typepad.com/my_weblog/

Anna Hackman said...

Your bleeding heart is beautiful. Mine is in part shade/full sun. Do you think this is the problems? Can you grow them in a pot because I really do not have much shade anywhere. Love your site. anna www.green-talk.com

Janet said...

Anna, they can normally tolerate part sun. But if it's midday sun and the soil is dry, it would be hard on the plant, which may be your problem, particularly if you live further south.

You could try growing it in a pot if that's the case, but the trick is getting it through the winter then, at least if you live in an area where you get freezing winter weather. It's not the cold that kills it, it's the alternating between freeze and thaw that gets it. Temperatures are much more stable in the ground. In that case you can either bury the pot for the winter, preferably with some mulch on top, or just insulate it well. The middle of a pile of leaves works well, with a tarp over top to keep the leaves in place.

Glennis said...

Bleeding heart is one of the real beauties of the garden, when it grows well its sensational, and mine seeds easily too so i can give away small plants to freinds. Or I could when I was in my old house, there is no Bleeding heart in my new garden, which is so tiny there is very little in it, but I have packed in as much as possable. Should you pop over and have a look you will see, it is mainly all in a small plastic mussel float.

Janet said...

I eventually cut mine in half and moved it to another corner. It was just too happy where it was.

I hope it will come back well next spring. It's a bit of a difficult corner, so a good place to put an overenthusiastic type.

hakki_44@yahoo.com said...

nice photos, plants

Janet said...

Thank you, Hakki. That particular plant is still struggling, although still alive. I can't recommend it for gardens this far north.

Greenhouses said...

This is the good blog with good images and good details. Please keep on posting the more stuff. I will like to hear more from you.

Janet Ursel said...

Thanks Greenhouses. I'm sorry I can't stretch myself thin enough to do everything I want.

hkki said...

in my previous comment I made a mistake and wrote my email. Could you please delete it. I receive unwanted emails.