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The First Flowers of Spring

Coltsfoot - the first yellows

It’s not a native and has expanded all over the place quite recently. Its botanical name Tussilago tells you of its traditional uses - Tussis being Latin for cough - it’s been a cough medicine in Europe and Western Asia for ever.

It has a place in my heart from my earliest days as a plant nut. It grew in an area of

unspeakable, boot-sucking red Kentish clay that was the result of a public works project - a

pipeline of some sort - that had dug up a wet spot we walked by every morning on the way to

catch the bus to school. Even in the heavy clay in produced bright, cheerful flowers in the cold English spring. Now it has invaded my raspberry patch and I am not sorry, despite its place on the list of invasive weeds.

Bloodroot - the first native

As pretty as any exotic. Its name describes in perfectly - Sanguinaria canadensis. Every garden should have a patch somewhere quiet and cool - mine is tucked against a stone wall that is shaded in summer - happier that way.

Both these are followed by huge leaves that do not last all summer. Coltsfoot is all through the ditches and waste spaces if you want to make cough medicine, so I discourage anyone from planting it - but Bloodroot is usually available at nurseries that pay attention to good native plants. Its problem is that by the time anyone is out and about and planting stuff, the flowers have gone by and people don’t notice it in a nursery. Get some anyway!!

And here’s a shot of one of my daffodil patches - my favorite flower.

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