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Of these seasonal motifs and adornment, my woodland garden would look noticeably different absent snowy mounds of double bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’).

Named for the morphinelike substance exuded from its rhizomes, bloodroot makes an easy groundcover for shady areas, slowly spreading to form a carpet of pristine flowers that herald spring.

The double form called ‘Multiplex’ trumps any of the rest (above).

Plant collectors have long coveted their clumps of ‘Multiplex’, hoarding them behind tall trees in the back of shady areas — floral moonshine — for fear plant envy might lead to theft.

Though it clumps at a moderate pace, it’s hardly slow enough to warrant obscurity.

The ephemerals of spring aren’t limited to woodlands and shade gardens. Wander west to Iowa’s Loess Hills in the early days of April, scour their grassy slopes, and you’ll inevitably find droves of prairie crocus (Pulsatilla patens) hovering at the base of grasses (right).

These short-lived flowers have sung the earliest notes of spring for as long as the tallgrass prairies have existed, thriving in a season when little else stirs.

Despite their invincible spirit, prairie crocus don’t grow in nearly as many Iowa gardens as they should, though they and their natural companion prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) look just as handsome in rock, scree, and prairie gardens as in their native condition.

Planted in full sun, they’ll thrive and reseed for many years in variations of frosted purple.


(Read more about The Zoneworthy Garden)

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