The little woodland Sanquinaria canadensis (bloodroot) are blooming now in mid spring. These perennials grow happily under the trees, flourishing in the organic matter that the trees drop and that decays into the soil. The flowers may bloom for a short time, but it is enjoyable to anticipate the beauty, and watch the perfect white petals unfold. The leaves are thick and lobed, making an interesting texture contrast with other woodland plants, or lacy ferns.
This photo shows the simple white blooms of Sanquinaria canadensis. Their petal structure is beautiful, even if the flowering time is brief. The flower on the left shows the perfectly symmetrical shape, with four large petals like compass points, and four shorter ones marking the directions in between.
The leaves of Sanguinaria are deeply lobed and attractive, too. Above you can see how the flower bud comes up through the bottom lobe in the leaf.
Mine are planted in between some Athyrium (ferns), Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ and Astilbe, where they make a nice bridge between the delicate texture of the ferns and Astilbe, and the solid heart-shaped Brunnera leaves. On the other side is an Arisaema (jack in the pulpit). There is some space right now between the Brunnera and the Sanguinaria because the Brunnera leaves keep growing over the summer, and will develop right up to the bloodroot. There are also some Chionodoxa (glory of the snow bulbs) planted around the Sanguinaria now. The Sanguinaria really are a woodland floor plant, standing about 20 cm (8 in) tall.
Here are the buds of the bloodroot in the process of opening. The folded buds are pretty even before they fully open. You can see a few light shafts hitting the broad leaves. The Sanguinaria get some early spring light before the tree leaves fully open, followed by some dappled light, and the plants seem to enjoy this exposure, making them a perfect shade perennial.
Sanquinaria canadensis f. multiplex (double bloodroot) has these lovely double blooms. The multiplex are new to my garden this year. The foliage has the same deep lobes, but the blooms get lot of extra white petals. Even though the multiplex has the flashier flowers, I like both of the bloodroots in their own way. There are more photos and information about the double bloodroot, as well as how it overwintered in this followup article.
These woodland perennials are flowering at the same time as the Brunnera (Siberian bugloss) and Pulmonaria (lungwort), creating a pretty blue and white flower scheme. The Trillium flower buds are just about to open, but they’ll join the woodland flower display soon with white blooms, too. It is very reassuring to see the blooms come into flower, each in their own time. I love the plants that bloom all season for their constant colour, but there is a rhythm to the flow of seasonal blooms that add their brief beauty one after another, in a familiar pattern. They allow you to enjoy each change in the garden, and the anticipation of the unfolding seasons. Although Sanguinaria get their name from the blood red colour of their sap, the other meaning of sanguine, or hopeful, is also very appropriate.
Here is post showing more woodland flowers.