Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Mystery of the Disappearing Bloodroot

I love to watch the flowers come up in the early spring. As the snow melts, and I clear away leaves and stalks from last year's garden, I look closely for all signs of green growth. The first plants to flower in my garden each year are the Snow Drops. If the snow melts early, or the snow cover is slight, I can spot the Snow Drops in January as tiny green shoots, and by mid-February these become lovely white flowers dangling from 6" tall stalks. The next to flower are the Crocuses, and knowing where they are all planted, I watch daily as they emerge from the ground and the buds acquire color and then open. The bees also know where they are all planted, and there is an audible hum on that first warm day each April when the bees visit the sea of purple and white which the Crocus create as they open.

A favorite flower of mine that also blooms early in spring is Bloodroot. I don't remember when it first appeared in my garden, whether is was a volunteer or a plant I purchased, but I have had Bloodroot growing in the woodland area of my garden for about 10 years. It has a single beautiful leaf, and a mature plant produces a second stalk with a single beautiful daisy-like flower, 4-5" tall, which opens in the warm sunlight and closes each night. The flower lasts only about 3 days, at which point the the petals fall off and the flower begins to go to seed. Because of these seeds, Bloodroot multiplies well where it is happy, and it has been multiplying in my garden for the last decade. What started as a few specimens grew to over 50 flowering plants last year.

This year, as I watched spring unfold, I eagerly kept an eye out for the Bloodroot. While this was my usual way to greet spring, what was unusual for me this spring was that I had been unable to garden last summer. In fact, I had been unable to walk, to bend, or even to care for myself in the most basic ways due to a serious flaring up of cancer -- multiple myeloma -- which had settled in my bones and caused my spine to collapse. My treatment began in July 2007, and I responded well to it. Now, after 10 months of chemo, physical therapy, and training my muscles to work again, I am able to walk, bend, reach, care for myself, and even garden. It is such a blessing to have the use of my body again, and especially to be able to bend down and touch the Earth as I garden.

So I kept looking for the Bloodroot this spring, and I never found it. Oh, there were many tiny leaves of Bloodroot, probably from the seeds which resulted from recent years' flowers, but the 2 big clumps of flowers which grew in my yard under the hemlock tree were gone. I kept watching and waiting for the beautiful white flowers to appear, and then I did what any respectable gardener would do -- I went to the internet and searched for information on "Bloodroot that disappears suddenly." What I learned was amazing.

First, I learned that the name 'Bloodroot' comes from the reddish orange juice that exudes from the root of the plant. And second, I found that Bloodroot is used medicinally to treat a number of things (including cancer), as well as to purify the blood. This is very interesting to me, because multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer, and if I needed anything last summer it was certainly for my blood to be purified! Pam Montgomery, an herbalist who I was privileged to learn from on several occasions, teaches that the plants which venture into our gardens are the ones which we need for our health. And conversely, it makes sense to me that the sudden disappearance of a plant can mean that it is no longer needed.

So rather than be disappointed at the disappearance of the Bloodroot in my garden, I found that I was stunned and amazed and hopeful and grateful that this plant had communicated to me of my healing. My blood was already purified from chemo, and I was on the road to health! Thank you, Bloodroot, and thank you, Universe, for the message. I got it.

1 comment:

RunninL8 said...

May bloodroot NEVER enter your garden again!
Hey, replace it with African Daisies! Quirky, whimsical, and produces a fruit with abundant seeds!