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Plants I can't live without, part 1

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Proper siting is crucial, for this is not always an easy plant to get established. Hardy to Zone 4, it prefers cool shade and moist, well-drained soil. However, once it has found the proper niche in a sheltered spot in your garden, it forms quite the robust plant, the foliage of which adds a wondrous texture to the woodland garden throughout the season.

A rare variety, Glaucidium palmatum ‘Alba’ (var. leucanthemum) with its pristine, snowy-white blossoms, is especially striking, but harder to find.

Allium zebdanense (Lebanon onion)

My favorite among the many ornamental onion species grown by gardeners worldwide is Allium zebdanense. Not because it’s the tallest, or has the biggest globe, or is unusual in any outstanding way, but because it is an ideal plant for a dry, woodland shade setting with humus-rich soil.

Endemic to rocky mountainous spots of Lebanon and Syria, it is especially gorgeous when planted among hostas or under shrubs that are late to leaf out. Though partial to light shade – especially in the hot afternoons – the Lebanon onion will also perform splendidly in your sunny borders as well.

This gorgeous allium, growing to a height of 12 to 16 inches, blooms in late April to mid-May in charming, loose clusters of six to 10 small, glistening, immaculate milk-white flowers suspended on gracefully arching stems. The wiry stems and shiny chive-fine leaves slowly increase and grow into dense and compact, carex-like grassy clumps which are quite attractive in drifts throughout the woodland garden.

An ephemeral, the plant goes completely dormant within two or so weeks after the last bloom fades. Hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding heart)

Over the years, much has been written about this rather common, though extremely popular spring-blooming plant -- and it remains this gardener’s heart-throb to this very day.

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