Made for shade, to share

Being a gardener is not easy. So many choices, but at times there’s not enough space in the garden. For instance: a gardener might have always longed to grow a particular sun-loving plant; however, upon looking around in the garden, cannot seem to find the right spot. Or, would adore to add a shade-lover, but either the location isn’t shaded enough or too secluded and unnoticeable, hence not a very prospective site. Besides, every gardener knows or has experienced that Nature dictates the rules here, and a sun-loving plant will not perform well in shade just the way a shade-loving one will peter out if grown in sun.

Solomon’s seal is one such perennial which will be happy only when planted in shade; though not as widely used as hostas in shade gardens, Solomon’s seal, especially the variegated one, Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’, is truly a treasure to have. It belongs to the lily family, multiplying by creeping rhizomes; dormant plants send tubular green shoots through the ground that look like asparagus spears to me just as the weather breaks in spring. Soon to follow are lovely arching branches bearing light green leaves with white variegations which seem to make them glow at dusk. Early summer brings small bell-shaped, mildly fragrant white flowers,hanging singly or in pairs along the points where the leaves are attached to the stems. So pretty is the foliage that just a few branches, with or without flowers, are sufficient to complement any flower arrangement; in fact, whenever I feel the need to perk a nook or a cranny inside our home, I can depend upon Solomon’s seal a good part of the year, by itself or along with anything else I can find in the garden, to put in a vase.

Clumps can become fairly large over the course of time; ours has not only outgrown the available space but plants have crawled under the adjacent fence to nearby beds. What is so nice about Solomon’s seal, true to most perennials, is the easy propagation by division; in early spring, small plantlets can be dug for sharing. In fact, I eagerly invite friends and anyone interested to come by and help themselves to a plant or two. After all, not only is sharing fun, but allows us to enjoy a wider variety of plants, too. Believe me, shared plants invariably fare well.


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